On the occasion of the International Day of Victims of Violence – 22 February – the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) uses the opportunity to point out the seriousness of the problems faced by all victims of violence, and above all, women and children in the family, victims of peer violence, families of victims of war events, elderly people, but also everyone else who experiences various forms of violence.
The CCE strongly condemns any form of violent behaviour and hate speech, as well as all actions that put one person in a subordinate position. Unfortunately, in recent years we have witnessed more and more physical and verbal incidents in Montenegro, which society is getting used to. It raises concerns that such acts are often tolerated by institutions as well, especially those that should work to suppress violence. In addition, support for victims who face any form of offece or criminality is more often missing.
By threatening members of any nation or religion, sexual orientation, or different material status, the entire population of Montenegro is threatened. In this context, the absence of adequate reactions from accountable institutions is a particular concern, because institutional passivity does not contribute to the necessary alleviating of tensions and feeling of insecurity among citizens.
Also, worryng is the increase in the number of cases of violence against women and femicide, which requires an urgent and systemic response in the direction of protecting of women and girls, preventing of violence, and harsher punishment of abusers. In addition, it is also necessary to show a much greater degree of seriousness and responsibility in actions related to the satisfaction of justice for all victims of the wars of the 90s, as well as in achieving concrete results in punishing those responsible for war crimes and the establishment of justice and reconciliation in the region of the former Yugoslavia.
CCE assesses that institutions must show a more proactive approach in processing all forms of incidents and violent reactions through adequate institutional action. Also, it is necessary to keep a record of the victims, creation of databases, the establishment of victimology centres, creation of support programmes and self-support for those citizens who are in the risk zone, but also the involvement of the wider community in comprehensive support for victims.
CCE believes that a sustainable response to the problems faced by victims of violence implies the work of numerous social actors, in addition to what is the primary obligation of institutions. Today, citizens and female citizens have more trust in non-governmental organizations and other non-institutional services than in the work of authorities responsible for providing support to victims. It should be a warning to the authorities, and that the time has come to strengthen the capacities of competent institutions that will provide more effective support to the victims and they should strengthen their trust, so that the victims would be involved in the criminal proceedings and testify. Thus, they can contribute to the development of criminal practice, which is sometimes too lenient due to the lack of involvement of the victim in the process.
Since its foundation, CCE has been dedicated to the promotion of universal human rights through its programs, and continuously works on educating citizens about tolerance and non-violent solutions to conflicts, but also about protection mechanisms, which contribute to achieving justice for victims.
The commemoration of the Day of Victims of Violence was initiated in 1989 by the National Association of Victim Assistance Services in Sweden, to make the consequences of crime victims visible to the general public and encouraging society to more effectively and completely protect victims’ rights. In 2001, the European Forum of Victim Assistance Services adopted the decision to declare 22 February as the International Day of Victims.
Tamara Milaš, Human Rights programme coordinator