Seriously consider the reasons for the President of Montenegro return of laws

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) and Human Rights Action (HRA) welcome the decision of the President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatović, not to sign the Law on the National Public Broadcaster – Public Media Service of Montenegro and the Law on Amendments to the Law on Judicial Council and Courts, which was adopted by the Parliament of Montenegro last week, as part of the so-called IBAR package of laws, that is, to return them to the Parliament for revision in certain parts.

HRA and CCE indicate that the speed of adopting these laws cannot justify the inclusion of unconstitutional provisions or those that prioritize particular interests over the public interest.

We remind that 40 non-governmental organizations, including those that deal with media issues on a daily basis, submitted amendments to all parliamentary clubs to restore stricter criteria for the selection of RTCG management, especially the General Director of RTCG. The same was previously requested from the Government, given that the version with those stricter criteria had previously received positive feedback from the European Commission, i.e. the experts of the Council of Europe.

Also, HRA has warned in advance about the shortcomings of the judicial laws, including the controversial extension of the mandate for distinguished lawyers who are members of the Judicial Council for two years if MPs cannot agree on the election of new members. This provision is not foreseen for lawyers in the Prosecutorial Council, it encourages political irresponsibility, and foster trading in important public functions that must serve the general interest, not any political party. This solution is also of questionable constitutionality because the Constitution clearly states that the mandate of the members of the Judicial Council, which has a president and nine members, lasts four years (Article 127).

President Milatović’s move provides an opportunity for revision that all MPs should take seriously, as we need high-quality solutions that we will live with. Considering that Montenegro has practically received a positive IBAR, this will not jeopardize that goal, but can significantly improve, at least in these small but important parts, these two legal texts.

CCE and HRA call on MPs to focus on the national interest because it is precisely the party and particular interests that have brought us to a situation where, 12 years after opening accession negotiations, we are still fundamentally far from the European Union.

Daliborka Uljarević, Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
Tea Gorjanc Prelević, Human Rights Action (HRA)