Centre for Civic Education (CCE) will not participate in today’s round table organized in the Parliament on the occasion of the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Prevention of Corruption, because it belives that the Parliament, which has been dissolved, does not have the legitimacy to work on such legal texts and that this must be the work of the next Government and parliamentary convocation.
Bearing in mind the obligations undertaken by Montenegro in the EU accession process, the CCE is from the beginning in the position that this had to be the job of the Government, which has established procedures for creating legal texts and communication channels with the European Commission (EC), along with the text harmonization process. Of course, it is clear that even the Government in a technical mandate, following good democratic practices, does not have the legitimacy to deal with systemic laws.
CGO also expresses a reservation that, under these circumstances, the Parliament will determine the time required to obtain the opinion of the EC and that it will consider the opinion of the EC as binding if it is not in line with the expectations and interests of the MPs who worked on this legal text.
CCE submitted general comments to the Anti-corruption Committee as proof that it is following this process carefully. For the sake of the public, we would like to point out that the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Prevention of Corruption generally does not respond to the reasons for passing the law stated in its explanation. On the contrary, this Draft intends to establish inappropriate control of the Parliament over the work of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (APC), which is contrary to the obligation for that body to be established as an independent and impartial body. On the other hand, by giving the APC “prosecutorial” powers, one can enter the zone of blocking the exercise of public functions, because this draft foresees excessive control of everything and everyone connected with a certain public function.
CCE points out that it is interesting that the proposed changes do not have a single amendment related to the protection of whistleblowers, and where there was significant room for intervention, given that the APC was left with practically only one whistleblower protection mechanism – giving an opinion, i.e. recommendations to the employer that the whistleblower reports, and which the employer does not have to fulfill.
CCE previously publicly indicated that the priority of amendments should be to change the definition of a public official, because the current definition is set too broadly, without any exception, and after more than seven years of different interpretations by the APC, the practice has shown numerous shortcomings. One example is school boards. Therefore, it is necessary to define precisely who are not public officials, if we are already having with the information that there are about ten thousand of them.
The CCE considers as positive the proposal to prohibit the contracting of severance pay when the president’s public office and management body members of a state-owned company are terminated, due to numerous abuses in that area.
In addressing the President of the Board, the CCE noted the announcement of amendments by the DF representative regarding NGOs, which are in complete contradiction to European standards, but very much in line with those approaches that have been affirmed and applied concerning the NGO sector in Russia and that had a unique condemning attitude of democratic actors around the world. CCE will carefully monitor the further positioning of all MPs on this issue and react accordingly, as the law should not be anyone’s wish tree or a tool for dealing with dissenters but should serve the public interest.
Snežana Kaluđerović, Senior Legal Advisor