Committee for Human Rights and Freedoms should have a broader approach when dealing with human rights

“State of human rights is still at an unsatisfying level despite certain progress, which is why the dialogue between all stakeholders is important since it could yield more quality solutions and approaches”, pointed out Petar Đukanović, Programme coordinator for Human rights at the Centre for Civic Education (CCE), at today’s 63rd session of the Committee for Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro, by welcoming the good practice of Committee to invite the NGO sector to attend its sessions.

He reflected on the Report on the Work of Committee for 2015 and pointed out that it is comprehensive and that it provides a clear overview of Committee’s work for previous year, but also expressed concerns due to the fact that certain number of Committee members was absent during great number of sessions.

By discussing on the Working Plan for 2016 he noticed that it is important for the Committee to continue relying on the remarks from international reports and resolutions, as well as that the Committee should take a more active stand, in other words, avoid waiting for certain issues to come up in these documents to deal with them. In this regard, Đukanović underlined that Committee should deal more with the issue of freedom of expression and media which are being eroded in Montenegro, according to assessments of international subjects, as well. “Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and the Committee certainly has a duty to contribute in the improvement of this right”, pointed out Đukanović. Đukanović also indicated that the issue of transitional justice and facing the past should be in the focus of Committee’s work. “From the angle of human rights, as well as of multi-ethnic and multi-confessional context in Montenegro, the issue of transitional justice and facing the past is of special importance, particularly in terms of the termination of impunity of war crimes and the establishment of responsibility of both perpetrators and masterminds. The issue of impunity of war crimes has been emphasised for years in the EU resolutions and reports, but it is nowhere to be found on the list of issues which Committee plans to deal with. I would like to stress that this issue is not the sole responsibility of investigative and judicial bodies, but of representatives of citizens in the Parliament, thus the responsibility of this Committee as well, whereby everybody should contribute in facing the past in line with his/her capacities.”

Additionally, with respect to the upcoming elections, Đukanović advised that the Committee should deal more with political underrepresentation of women, as well as with other aspects of violation of human rights of women and violence against women.

“I would like to remind that latest research on the perception of discrimination in Montenegro, which CCE conducted in February 2016, indicated on concerning levels of homophobia, which strongly contradicts every institutional and legislative solution, strategy, campaign that has been adopted so far… Key solution lies in education, and currently we have a formal system which textbooks have been “cleansed” of these topics. Moreover, we have the example of higher-education institution such as the Faculty of Philosophy in Nikšić where the public debate on LGBT rights has been prohibited. I believe that the Committee should also prepare some recommendations for the education system in order to improve the quality of life of LGBT people”, Đukanović told.

The research on the perception of discrimination ranked the poor and elderly people as most discriminated groups of society, hence Đukanović advised the Committee to focus more on these categories who face numerous challenges in the realisation and protection of their rights. “Poverty is becoming a crucial obstacle in the realisation of one’s rights, justice and basic needs, hence we need to address the processes that led to such state as soon as possible in order to develop more effective and comprehensive policies. Persons with disabilities, Roma, sexual minorities, women, HIV positive persons, ex-drug addicts, ex-convicts, are also on top of the list of discriminated people according to the perceptions of citizens”.

CCE assesses that in addition to good practice of inclusion of the NGO sector in the discussion on the report of work and working plan, the Committee should make a step forward and consider the suggestions of NGO sector further so that these meetings don’t turn into meaningless gatherings.

Svetlana Pešić, programme associate