None jeopardizes UoM’s autonomy, but requires UoM to respect the law

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) considers as unacceptable the UoM’s management attempt to discredit the Institution of Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro (Ombudsman) which established that Janko Ljumovic, Associate Professor at the UoM was discriminated in the process of election to the higher academic title.

We recall that Janko Ljumovic was not elected to the position of regular professor of UoM in the phase of intensive clashes of the current management with the previous one, to which the CCE pointed out earlier. Ombudsman, through the conducted proceedings in the case of Ljumovic, concluded ‘that UoM based the decision on the election to the academic title without applying the criteria e.i. substantive rules established by the University itself, and such conduct violated the right to work and rights on the basis of work, including the right to promotion.’

Instead of processing promptly the specific recommendations from Ombudsman’s opinion, the management of UoM ‘distanced from the act of the Deputy Ombudsman’, as if the Deputy Ombudsman was an employee at the UoM and not of an independent institution!? In addition, apart from general rhetoric of the alleged jeopardy of the autonomy, the UoM’s management did not make any tangible argument for its loud refusal to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations. Finally, this is very serious warning from competent anti-discrimination institution that UoM’s management discriminates within its house, and therefore the UoM’s management had to act responsibly, which was not the case here.

The approach and language used by the UoM’s management in communicating this issue, and it is not the only one lately, are concerning. This is neither at the level of what is expected of the management of the oldest higher education institution in Montenegro, nor is it in certain parts in accordance with the UoM’s Code of Ethics.

The Ombudsman’s recommendations are not binding, and within Montenegrin context these are often ignored. However, the attitude towards these recommendations is also a mirror of (ir)responsibility of the institutions. Instead of tendentious reactions to the Ombudsman’s opinion, the UoM had to apply the Ombudsman’s recommendations and, if it refuses to apply them, it should provide fact-based justification.

In this manner, the UoM’s management classifies itself as violator of norms and the one that does not respect institutional decisions, which is unprofessional and contrary to the spirit of the academic community that should promote legality.

If the UoM’s autonomy, to which the UoM’s Senate refers, continues to be interpreted contrary to the professional principles, then its autonomy ends. Such situations can further cause legal proceedings, whose decisions will also be binding for this UoM’S management.

Snezana Kaludjerovic, Senior Legal Advisor