The Network of the SEE | EU Cluster of Excellence in European and International Law
The Traffic Directorate has now stronger tools that will facilitate road maintenance planning, analysis of the safety of each road, planning for road improvement. Furthermore, we have been helping the Project Implementation Unit within the Railway Infrastructure Company become established and in training and coaching their new staff for effective project implementation. These among others are some of the benefits that NTU has provided through the project. NTU also supported the drafting of legislation for the MoTMA, assisting the harmonization of road, rail and air transport legislation with that of the EU.
This is reflected in a new law for railway and new air-transport law as well as in the preparation of safety regulations on aspects of road and vehicle standards. Through these legislative changes, NTU has paved the way for Montenegro to take further steps towards the progression of EU membership. NTU has therefore proudly completed this technical assistance which provides a better scope for competition and private sector participation in the transport sector, with benefits to the economy of Montenegro.
However, cooperation between state institutions and civil society is uneven, often hinging on the leadership in the respective ministries. The Centre for Development of NGOs CRNVO , which monitored implementation of the decrees, noted that only 3 out of 16 ministries have published lists of the legislation open for consultations with NGOs, which generally have limited access to information and documents.
The CRNVO also noted that only 15 out of 51 state bodies have published on their websites the contact details of NGO liaison officers who were formally appointed in By mid-August , registered NGOs were required to align their internal statutes with the Law on NGOs in order to enhance internal democratic governance.
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This process also helped clarify the number of active NGOs in Montenegro because groups were forced to re-register with the government. Financing—and especially access to public funds—remained a key problem for civil society in Throughout the year, the government discussed implementation of public funding provisions in the Law on NGOs through the creation of a single, centralized government fund. According to a November poll, public confidence in NGOs is improving. Most citizens have confidence in NGOs, with the number of those with a negative opinion down since a survey.
The constitution and other legislation harmonized with European standards guarantee freedom of the press, and libel was decriminalized in July In practice, however, journalists face frequent harassment and even physical attacks. Two journalists from the dailies Dan and Vijesti were also attacked during the election campaign. Montenegro has 14 local public broadcasting services, a national public broadcasting television service RTCG , and 40 private radio stations.
There are 3 local and 30 private television stations. Media owned or financially supported by the state serve as mouthpieces for the ruling parties. Consequently, the government supports these media, in addition to several private outlets considered friendly, by buying advertising. NGOs have called for the establishment of objective criteria for spending public money in the media. The media environment is generally immature, and professional standards are still underdeveloped.
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Reporting is increasingly sensational. Dailies such as state-owned Pobjeda publish medical, financial, and other personal data and defame private citizens. During the election campaign a Parliamentary Board of 10 legislators from various political parties was established to monitor media reporting, but it had little authority.
Internet use is increasing. Fifty-five percent of households had internet access in ,  compared to Moreover, social media increasingly influence public opinion because they are considered to be inclusive and more transparent than traditional outlets. At the same time, social media risk becoming channels for hate speech and discrimination, especially when anonymous comments are directed at marginalized groups or individuals, particularly from the LGBT lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. This is also an issue in legacy media, but editorial boards have refused to accept responsibility for the content of comment sections despite regional and European legal precedent that media must curate comments, which have become an integral part of reporting published online.
The constitution and Law on Local Government define the foundations of the local government system. Local government comprises 21 municipalities, including the capital city of Podgorica, two city municipalities, and the historic royal capital of Cetinje. Bigger municipalities such as Podgorica have significantly larger budgets than their smaller counterparts. However, most cities and towns continue to struggle amid the global economic downturn, weak investment, poor financial management, and bad governance.
Legislative changes in stipulating that 70 percent of concessions income should go to local instead of national budgets did not benefit local governments as expected. During the year, municipalities were invited to sign a financial restructuring agreement in which the government agreed to co-fund the retirement of surplus workforce. The few municipalities that signed the agreement significantly reduced employee numbers, which, in the medium term, is expected to trim employment budgets and increase productivity in local administrations. In its October report, the EC said local governments need to be streamlined.
Local parliaments are largely inactive, perform little oversight, and most lack their own premises—some even meet in hotels or restaurants. Nevertheless, some progress was made on local self-governance in In June, the state-level government adopted an analysis of the functioning of local self-government and, a month later, approved legislative changes including a requirement that local governments publish all contracts with individuals and legal entities on their websites. While implementation is thus far weak, these changes represent a stride to improve local governance and transparency.
According to some estimates, informal settlements comprise one-third of all construction in Montenegro. Changes to the Law on State Property in require local governments to gain the permission of the Ministry of Finance before selling their own property, sometimes causing conflicts such as the ongoing dispute between the ministry and the mayor of Podgorica. The State Audit Institution lacks the capacity to perform thorough and regular audits of local governments and local enterprises.
As a result, many irregularities slip through. In a audit of Bar, a coastal municipality, the institution found violations of the Law on Public Procurement, significant arrears on taxes and civil servant salaries, bookkeeping and accounting problems, and omissions in municipal asset records.
Following the introduction of the Law on Territorial Organization, a referendum was held in for a new municipality in Petnjica, a remote part of northern Montenegro, with an ethnic Bosniak Bosnian Muslim majority.
Despite a low turnout, most voters supported the new municipality, and, on the eve of the October elections, the government backed the initiative—the first attempt to use the new legislation to add municipalities. As at the national level, local elections are held according to a proportional system, with a municipality as a single electoral unit.
In April , regular elections were held for local parliaments in the municipalities of Herceg Novi and Tivat. Opposition parties accused the DPS of buying votes, and there were indeed reports of citizens approached to sell their votes in Herceg Novi. Judicial appointments in Montenegro are permanent, and judges enjoy functional immunity under the constitution. The Supreme Court is the highest judicial authority, and parliament appoints its president. The current president is a former supreme state prosecutor, an appointment widely perceived as a conflict of interest.
Judges and presidents of courts are appointed and dismissed by the Judicial Council, comprising a president and nine members. The Supreme Court president also presides over the Judicial Council, comprising four judges, one ruling and one opposition parliamentarian, two prominent lawyers, and the minister of justice. Under the constitution, the state prosecutor is a unique and independent public authority charged with prosecuting criminal and other punishable acts.
The state prosecutor and his or her deputies are parliamentary appointees. The Judicial Council and Prosecutorial Council adopted rules for procedure that outline their organization structure, among other issues, and the new councils were appointed in June and July, respectively.
The first written tests for judges were also held during the year.
However, judges are still not appointed in a fair and unbiased manner, and many lack adequate training before assuming the bench, according to the EC. With no judicial budget to house judges, accommodation is funded on a case-by-case basis through loans from a government commission, deepening the dependence of the judiciary on the executive.
Regarding accountability, some progress was made in , with the rulings of the Administrative Court and Appellate Court made available to the public.
Ethics and disciplinary commissions were also appointed. With many of its verdicts ignored by state bodies, citizens and companies often simply abandon complaints, to the detriment of rule of law. The Constitutional Court has seven members appointed by a simple parliamentary majority. It lacks independence and is notorious for lengthy proceedings and delays in controversial judgments.
Department of Justice on corruption allegations in the Telekom privatization. In general, efficiency is problematic. Montenegro has among the most first instance courts, judges, prosecutors, and administrative personnel per capita in Europe. Public confidence in the judiciary is at its lowest level in two years, according to a September poll.
Four war crimes trials continued in In each case, only subordinates, not commanders, were indicted. Four other defendants received 12 years in prison, but an appeals court overturned the verdict in July and ordered a retrial.
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In November, a court acquitted the defendants in a case regarding the deportation of Bosnian refugees in , but the prosecution appealed. The only war crimes trial that was concluded in was the so-called Bukovica case.