IA and HRA: Appeal to Urgently Provide the Right to Public Gatherings

Non-governmental organisations Human Rights Action (HRA) and the Institute Alternative (IA) requested from the current Minister of Health, Mr. Kenan Hrapović, who chairs the National Coordination Body for Communicable Diseases (NCB), to urgently amend the order banning public gatherings, in order to provide citizens the right to protest in a way that does not undermine public health.

HRA and IA pointed out that the current Order for taking temporary measures to prevent the introduction into the country, suppress and prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus (“Official Gazette of Montenegro”, 110/20 of 14 November 2020, 112/20 of 24 November 2020) which completely prohibits outdoor gatherings, is not in accordance with international human rights standards and the Constitution of Montenegro, because the state of emergency has not been declared. We pointed out that the Constitutional Court of Germany in April this year lifted a complete ban on public gatherings and stated they must be provided for a limited number of participants, who wear masks and maintain physical distance.

HRA and IA expect the Minister of Health to urgently amend the mentioned Order and provide the right to protest, without waiting for the Constitutional Court of Montenegro to decide on the initiative to examine the constitutionality of the Order, as that would be wasting precious time.

The environmental activists from the Civic Initiative Let’s Save the Rivers of Montenegro and residents of the villages of Rečina and Bare Kraljske, who have been protesting for the past four months to prevent the construction of mini-hydropower plants on the rivers Skrbuša, Čestogaz, Ljubaštica and Crnja, have informed us that the police have warned to prosecute them for violating NCB measures. They organized protests of up to 15 participants, who wore masks and kept their distance.

In order to prevent their right to peaceful protest gathering from being violated by possible arrest and prosecution, we asked Minister Hrapović to react urgently. We have also informed the Deputy Head of the Basic State Prosecutor in Kolašin, Ms. Maja Šćepanović, about our appeal to the minister.

On the following links you may find the letters in Montenegrin sent to the Minister and to the Basic State Prosecutor in Kolašin.

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