First Impressions on Non-paper for Chapters 23 and 24

A new non-paper for chapters 23 and 24 in Montenegro will be published soon. Here are our first comments for daily newspapers Vijesti:

In general, one not really positive image. This report is not that much about critics as it is ”faded” and testifies to more than worrying stagnation, bearing in mind that we are near the end of the eight year of accession negotiations.

In the reporting period, there was nothing that made the institutions stand out and shine, especially not in regard the reform of the judiciary. Instead of tapping in one place, this is the time when Montenegro should make ”seven-mile steps”, show maturity as a society and dynamically change for the better.

The report also shows that the situation in Chapter 23 is worse than in Chapter 24, where at least some technical issues are being addressed and certain statistics are offered as a shift compared to the previous period.

Dina Bajramspahić, IA’s representative in the Working Group for Chapter 23: Instead of coming to the end of rationalisation of judicial network, the analysis that precedes the preparation of a new rationalisation strategy is reportedly just being started. Usual steps when you do not want to do anything – in addition to dozens of good analysis that already exist, a new analysis is being done, for a new strategy, then a new action plan, so maybe in five years the activity in direction of rationalisation may be implemented. This shows that the negotiating structure is in no hurry to complete the negotiations and that all important reforms are being left for the end of negotiations, which is not even in our sight. The statements about the serious excessive number of judges, prosecutors and judicial employees are repeated from report to report, the judiciary denies it, although rationalisation is one of the transitional criteria in Chapter 23. Rationalisation is important because it is the only opportunity that ones who are the best – remain in the judiciary.

Report repeated that the Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils are still under unacceptable political influence which is another problem that the institutions are not trying to address. Court presidents are persistently elected for more than two terms, contrary to international recommendations. Constitutional Court is headed by a fictitious ”presiding” judge, which seriously undermines trust in the credibility of this institution.

Accountability in judiciary is in the same place it was before all the reforms, which is very devastating. Report also commented on the fact that all of the prosecutors were rated as ”excellent”, which really questions the objectivity of the evaluation. Only one disciplinary procedure in the judiciary, none in the prosecutor’s offices – in which even judicial inspection throughout 2019 did not find a single irregularity.

Judicial statistics remain unreliable, number of procedures left behind remain high.

In areas of particular risk for corruption, it is stated that results have yet to be shown. Report pointed out 44 murders from 2012 related to criminal clans which continued in 2020, and also that our crime is being exported abroad by mentioning 9 murders abroad since 2018, in connection with Montenegrin clans. This finding should be of particular concern to the institutions, since EU member stated do not want that such problems become integral part of the EU.

Thus, the same problems are rewritten from year to year in the reports and there are no significant changes. It is important to point out that non-paper is not an analytical report and does not contain the assessments, recommendations and guidelines contained in the annual report on Montenegro.

Dina Bajramspahić,
IA’s Representative in Chapter 23 Working Group

Commentary is originally published in today’s Vijesti newspaper, and also on the Vijesti’s portal.

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