There is no rule of law without respect for the human rights and dignity of the victims

Centre for Civic Education (CCE), on the occasion of 24 March – the International Day of the Right to the Truth about Serious Violations of Human Rights and the Dignity of Victims – indicates the importance of continuous actions aimed at achieving justice for all victims of serious systemic violations of human rights and prosecuting those responsible for crimes.

The right to the truth about serious violations of human rights is an inalienable right of every individual. The state has the duty and obligation to protect that right through the existing legal framework, as well as through other protection mechanisms. Unfortunately, even today we are witnessing numerous cases of serious violation of human rights and violation of human dignity in Montenegro, but also all around the world, especially in less developed places and countries affected by the war.

The CCE assesses that in Montenegro there are barriers on the way to achieving a dignified life and civil liberties. Montenegrin society is today characterized by polarization, populism, clericalization, growing misogyny and hate speech. This is, among other issues, a consequence of the inadequate process of dealing with the past, which is reflected in the impunity of war crimes, the absence of determining command responsibility, as well as the responsibility of the actors of court proceedings who incorrectly applied the law or faked processes, then unfinished reparations processes, an underdeveloped culture of memory and the unsolved fate of the missing, but also the additional victimization of their families and the families of the victims.

The former government supported efforts in the reconciliation process in a declarative, but not essential manner, which did not even lead to an effective process of dealing with the past that would be healing for Montenegrin society. That tendency continued also with the new authorities, after the August 2020 elections. Nothing in Montenegrin society happened overnight, but a lot of bad were inherited and inadequately addressed in a certain time frame, which is also reflected in some parts of our everyday life. That is why breaking radicalism, repairing the consequences of the war in our region, encouraging a common-sense and unencumbered approach, expertise, dedication to principles and reconciliation, coexistence, tolerance, respect and economic prosperity should be the political framework and habitus of every citizen of Montenegro.

CCE emphasizes that it is crucially important that decision-makers and institutions always put the citizen first, that they fight for the truth and make a full contribution to the affirmation of truth and justice.

The International Day of the Right to the Truth About Serious Violations of Human Rights and Victims’ Dignity was established by the United Nations General Assembly as a day of remembrance for Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, a famous human rights fighter, who was killed on 24 March 1980, due to his harsh condemnations of violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable, defence of the principles of protection of the right to life, promotion of human dignity and fierce opposition to all forms of violence. The purpose of celebrating this day is to show respect and memory for the victims of severe and systemic violations of human rights and to promote the importance of the right to truth and justice.

Tamara Milaš, Human Rights Programme Coordinator