Why is Montenegrin academic community silent concerning the Rakočević case?

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) timely informed the management of University of Montenegro (UoM) on the irregularities regarding the assignment of Velimir Rakočević for the dean of Faculty of Law. Unfortunately, after more than month, management of UoM still has not made any efforts to comply, primarily, with its own Code of Ethics, nor with legal possibilities applicable in this case. CCE amended this initiative on several occasions, and recently the public had the opportunity to inform thoroughly about one aspect of controversy that follows Rakočević, which require dedicated and responsible approach by the UoM management, but also by the entire academic community.

It raises concern that there is no feedback from the academic community, because the fight against the corruption in higher education will start yielding ground-breaking results only when there are people at universities willing to bravely start addressing dangerous questions. Like every other society, Montenegrin society also requires open minded professors, ready to take a firm stand and defend civic tenets and professional ethics. Only such professors can educate students on: academic integrity, civic courage and justice. Antipode to this case are the professors who are already blackmailed and willing to keep their mouths shut and turn a blind eye on every potential irregularity, all in order to preserve their own position of interest.

Today, the academic community faces an ordeal: it can either choose between the integrity and credibility, or political and otherwise sort of influence, and this depends on its final stand in the Rakočević case. Namely, all of those who are now silent about this case are basically taking part in the deterioration of academic ethic and reputation of UoM and its faculty units.

This primarily relates to each and every professor from the Faculty of Law, who ought to know that justice is slow, but achievable, and that they should serve as role models and demonstrate the consistency in fighting for justice. Employees from the Faculty of Law are precisely the ones who know that the case of textbook “Criminology” is just a tip of the iceberg in terms of this and other related cases. Hence, their persisting silence is especially dangerous for social context. We are talking about people who are there to educate future prosecutors, judges, as well as the members of police force and decision-makers in numerous state bodies. What sort of integrity does one have to come forth in an amphitheatre if that same person does not respect the basic ethic principles not just of academic community, but of legal profession as well? What sort of message are they conveying to future cadre of Montenegro? And what kind of authority does it take to come public and comment on any of these matters if they hide skeletons in their own closets?

CCE forms its claims based on laws and acts of University of Montenegro, which are unfortunately neglected by the UoM itself. As a reminder, Code of Ethics of UoM, section “Moral and professional principles”, Article 1, paragraph 7, prescribes that “Members of academic community have the right and duty to indicate on cases of scientific disrespect by their colleagues”, while paragraph 9 states that “Academic personnel acts in line with principles of academic freedom, ethical and intellectual responsibility, and fosters the values of diversity of opinion, systematic suspicion and personal initiative”.

The fact that Code of Ethics is for long time forgotten document on UoM is devastating. However, the CCE will continue indicating on identified deviations hoping that it will encourage at least some of the members of academic community to act in line with that document and observe its provisions, regardless of fact that it could jeopardise their personal interests, since we believe that it is in the interest of state of Montenegro to have a quality state university.

Daliborka Uljarević
, Executive Director