Judiciary, fight against corruption and rule of law should be a priority for political actors

Judiciary, fight against corruption and rule of law in a broader context are the key issues of Chapter 23, in which Montenegro records a chronic lack of track record in the accession negotiation process with the European Union. Although all election actors during the parliamentary election campaign rhetorically advocated for the acceleration of European integration, the analysis of the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) of the election manifestos of these coalitions and parties indicates that these issues were not treated as a priority.

The Croatian Reform Party (HRS) paid the most attention to the issues that are encompassed by Chapter 23, i.e. 11.4% of its programme, followed by the “Black and White” coalition with 8.9%, then the Bosniak Party with 7%, the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the coalition “For the Future of Montenegro” with 6.8% each, the Social Democratic Party of Montenegro (SDP) with 5.8% and the “Albanian List” with 5.5%. The Albanian Coalition “Unanimously” (4%) and the Coalition “Peace is Our Nation” (2.1%) paid the least attention to these topics in their programmes, while the programmes of the Social Democrats and the Croatian Civic Initiative do not address these issues at all.

In election manifestos, issues of justice, the fight against corruption and rule of law are generally addressed in general terms. Most coalitions and parties point out that they will work to ensure and improve respect for human rights and that reform and depoliticization of the judiciary are necessary, while in terms of specific measures, the “Black and White” coalition stands out proposing the confiscation and investment of money earned by crime in health and education system and tightening of penal policy for crimes in the field of corruption and organized crime.

The proposal of the DPS to abolish the institute of immunity from criminal prosecution for holders of public office is also interesting, while retaining the right to protection for the expressed opinion, position or voice in the performance of the public office.

Also, only the Bosniak Party in its programme addressed the issue of war crimes and the resumption of investigative and judicial proceedings regarding these crimes, with additional concern about the lack of a strong reaction from state authorities in combating public hate speech and denial of crimes.

The election campaign had its extensive media expression with 7,142 media pieces from 5 to 30 August, as monitored by the CCE. Out of that, 1,093 publications referred to issues of justice and rule of law, and an additional 759 to the fight against corruption and organized crime. Those announcements were also more or less general topics, and without many specific novelties, measures and suggestions for improvement.

CCE assesses that due to their complexity and importance in the process of accession to the European Union and internal democratization, issues of justice, fight against corruption and the rule of law, in general, had to deserve more attention in party/coalition programmes, and that it had to be accompanied by more concrete measures regarding improvements within this area. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent the parliamentary parties will pay more attention to these issues in practice.

Amina NIKOVIĆ, Project assistant