For whose interest does the Constitutional Court adopts the decisions?

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) received a Decision of Constitutional Court for the file UI No 23/12 yesterday via mail, based on which the Court rejected the CCE Initiative for the initiation of procedure for the evaluation of constitutionality of Law on misdemeanors in the part of the provisions of articles 71 to 93, as well as the request for the termination of execution of specific acts and actions undertaken based on the abovementioned Law.

As a reminder, CCE filed this initiative on 18 September 2012, and after numerous interventions and requests for priority decision about it, Constitutional Court decided on this Initiative three years later, and submitted the decision to CCE 46 days after its adoption. These facts are concerning reflection of efficiency of the Constitutional Court.

Furthermore, Constitutional Court admits in its explanation that the CCE was right and that the disputed provisions of Law on misdemeanor are not constitutional. However, Constitutional Court kept this initiative in a drawer, for reasons known only to them. In the meantime, new Law on courts came into force in March of 2015, based on which some of the CCE key remarks were addressed. Nowadays, Constitutional court claims that it began acting on the CCE Initiative after March 2015 and that all of the disputed provisions of law ceased to be valid, based on which it rejected the Initiative.

CCE underlines that the allegations from such an explanation are untrue, and that the explanation itself is contradictory. Namely, precisely in the item 2.1 of its explanation, Constitutional Court stated that it began acting on the CCE Initiative shortly after the same was submitted and that it received the response from Government of Montenegro in which the Government requested the halt in the decision-making process of the Initiative on the constitutionality of disputed provisions. Based on this it is clear that Constitutional Court acted upon the request of the Government, and not based on the public interest. CCE underlined that Constitutional Court, as an independent and impartial body, which respects the constitutionality and legality of legal regulations for the sake of the public interest and equity, should not have stopped the CCE Initiative and kept it in a drawer for years, only because the Government asked it to do so, for the purpose of rectifying legal omissions in regulations in the meantime.

Then again, they deliberately omit the fact that Government had a previous period of 3 years to complete the reform in misdemeanor system of Montenegro, or by the end of 2013 (1) , which was the only period where the Constitutional court could have stopped the procedure. Everything after that period – hence during last 2 years – indicates to potential inappropriate political influences in the decision-making process of Constitutional Court, which bring into question the purpose of existence and acting of this judicial body.

Considering everything, the filed Initiative should have been reviewed within a reasonable period of time in order to achieve its purpose, while this stalling by the Constitutional Court caused damage not only to citizens of Montenegro, but also to concept of rule of law which proved to be dysfunctional in this specific example, which was also noted by relevant international reports.

Briefly, Constitutional Court was a long-standing accomplice in the implementation of unconstitutional provisions of Law on misdemeanors as long as the same stayed unchanged instead of annulling them timely and thereby preventing systematic violation of human rights which was the result of these provisions, such as the unconstitutional imprisonment of 439 persons in Montenegro during 2011, 2012, 2013, and unconstitutional injection of millions into the budget financed with the money of Montenegrin citizens.

Snežana Kaluđerović, programme coordinator
(1) Government, ie the Ministry of Justice, body which proposed the law, obliged itself in the reform of misdemeanor system by the Law on misdemeanors, adopted on 22/12/2010, complete the reforms in the misdemeanor system in Montenegro during the period of 3 years from the adoption of aforementioned law, hence by the end of 2013