Centre for Civic Education (CCE), following the statement of Duško Bjelica, professor at the Faculty of Sports and Physical Education and former multi-term president of the Board of the University of Montenegro (UoM), points out that the Decision of Ethical Committee of UoM is clear, although unpleasant for him.
Bjelica sent his statement to several media over the weekend, stating, among other things, the following: “The non-governmental organization “Centre for Civic Education” submitted to the Ethical Committee of the University of Montenegro a proposal against me for determining the violation of academic integrity, which was ordered a long time ago by the rector of UoM Vladimir Božović.” It is completely incorrect that the CCE works according to anyone’s orders. The only truth in Bjelica’s statement is that CCE submitted, in accordance with the Code of Ethics and the Law on Academic Integrity, a Proposal for Determining the Violation of Academic Integrity to the Ethical Committee, with accompanying evidence. Based on that proposal, evidence and testimonies of damaged students, associates and colleagues of Bjelica, the Ethical Committee noted that he violated the Code of Ethics on 16 counts and sentenced him with the most severe punishment – public condemnation, with publication in “Bulletin of the University of Montenegro”. The CCE expresses hope that the Ethical Committee of UoM will continue to act effectively in similar cases and thus protect the academic integrity of UoM, but also the rights of those who have been misused by professors and mentors, as well as colleagues.
It is known to the public that the CCE has been dealing with the situation at UoM for more than a decade, as well as that Bjelica was often at the center of many controversial issues, which we have publicly and argumentatively pointed out. Bjelica also knows that because he himself sometimes argued with us in public, and sometimes through avatars.
We understand that it is not easy for Bjelica in a situation where he no longer has full control over the UoM bodies, especially when it is necessary to cover up irregularities and non-academic actions. From his reaction we understood that he is not disputing any fact, but is trying to defend himself with procedural gymnastics, stating: “The Ethical Committee did not have a legal basis for initiating this procedure for establishing violations of academic integrity, because twice was decided on the same proposal of this NGO.” We take this opportunity to inform the public that the only decision we have from the Ethics Committee is the one from 19/11/2021 and that this was the only procedure in which we were invited as a party to participate, and the Ethical Committee must send an invitation to the proposer, as the party in the proceedings. In short, it is not true that this CCE proposal has been decided twice.
We are surprised by Bjelica’s new tendentious attacks on the CCE, because during the procedure, to our surprise, he pointed out the valuable role of the CCE in the society, as well that he became aware of our mission only from his current position, i.e. after losing his public office.
Finally, instead of accusing those who pointed out his misdeeds in public and thus risking a defamation lawsuit, we advise Bjelica to use the mechanisms from the legal instruction of the decision if he believes he is right, i.e to address the Senate of UoM, which is almost of the same composition as when he was the alpha and omega at the UoM.
The CCE will continue to monitor the situation at UoM and the work of the new management, as it was done in all previous mandates of those who ran this higher education institution.
Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor