The Parliament puts into jeopardy Montenegrin legal system

The reaction of the Parliament of Montenegro regarding the decision of the Basic Court in Podgorica which establishes temporary measure that orders the Parliament of Montenegro to return Goran Djurovic at the position of the RTCG Council member within eight days, until the judicial proceeding is completed, is scandalous and represents an open attack of the ruling party on judiciary. The Parliament has, in its official press release, stated that the Basic Court “tried to stultify division of powers to executive, legislative and judicial established by the Constitution of Montenegro and in that manner tried to put into jeopardy the legal system of the state”.

Such unseen attack of the Parliament of Montenegro on the judicial system represents an open party pressure on judiciary and it may have far-reaching consequences on the entire society. The Parliament, i.e. MPs of the ruling majority demonstrated that they neither recognize the division of powers to executive, legislative and judicial established by the Constitution, nor understand the role of the judicial branch in the control of legal acting of other branches. If they advert the Constitution, it would be good if MPs of the ruling majority could read the Constitution that envisages limitations of powers by the Constitution and the law and prescribes that relation of the powers is based on checks and balances in Article 11.

The ruling majority obviously believes that it is enough if there is a Parliament in the system where they would declare what is right and what is not by majority, and decide on who is guilty and who is not, hence the citizens should not have any mechanism of protection from their will.

Particularly are concerning comments of DPS MP, Marta Šćepanović,party trustee for the implementation and defence of unlawful decisions of the Parliament concerning dismissal of inadequate members of the RTCG Council. Her statements that the Basic Court has become competent for decisions of the Parliament overnight, and that this court cannot decide on decisions of the Parliament and that the Basic Court decides on decisions of the Parliament of Montenegro for the first time are not in accordance with facts.

Namely, Marta Šćepanović should first, as president of the Legislative Committee, as well as the parliamentary majority, know that apart from the possibility of assessing the legality of decisions of the Parliament by the regular Basic Court, prescribed by the Constitution and the Law, there is already such practice. The practice was established by the Supreme court, the highest judicial instance. The matter is even more defiant for the parliamentary majority, since the Supreme Court defended the jurisdiction of the Basic court in the dispute concerning the appointment of members of the Agency for Electronic Media in which it determined the violation of the law by the Administrative Committee and the Parliament, based on the complaint of Slavica Striković.

Therefore, there is no doubt that the Basic Court is competent to re-examine decisions of the Parliament, although MPs of the ruling majority are hard to accept the possibility that anyone could question their arbitrary and in certain cases unlawful work.

We appeal to the Council of the Basic Court to be persistent in the law enforcement, to be resistant to pressures and to keep its integrity by defending the decision of its judge, especially in the light of the importance that independent, quality and efficient judiciary has in the context of establishment of the rule of law as it is also referred to in the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans. There is no doubt that the judiciary’s response to this issue will be of extraordinary important for assessing the judiciary itself in the forthcoming EC report and we believe that the reputation of the judiciary is more important than the interests of any political party.

Ana Novaković, Executive Director, Center for the Development of Non-Governmental Organisations (CDNGO)
Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director, Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
Stevo Muk, President of the Governing Board, Institute Alternative (IA)
Zlatko Vujović, President of the Governing Board, Center for Monitoring and Research (CeMI)