Joint Press Release: Deadlines cannot be prioritized over the quality of Law

In relation to the adoption of Proposal of Law on the prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities on the session of Government of Montenegro from 4 June 2015 and the submission of this document to Parliament of Montenegro for its adoption, based on shortened procedure, due to the respect of deadlines envisaged within the Working Program of Government and action plans for Chapters 23 and 19, Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro (AYDM), in cooperation with 63 organizations, addressed the President of Government Milo Đukanović, minister for human and minority rights Suad Numanović, Parliament of Montenegro, Ombudsman, representatives of European Commission and European Parliament as well as EU Delegation to Podgorica.

Following our initiatives, the Committee on Human Rights and Freedom has initiated putting the Draft Law back to the agenda for the additional harmonization between competent ministry and the organization of persons with disabilities, for one week period.

Namely, the Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro, as an organization which had a member in the Working group for drafting initial text of Draft of Law, absolutely supported the adoption of New Law on the prohibition of discrimination against persons with disabilities. However, the Proposal of Law which Government adopted on session held on 4 June 2015, to a great extent, envisaged poorer solutions compared to ones envisaged by the Draft of Law which was on the public debate in August and September of 2014.

Numerous provisions consisted in the proposed text of the Law are problematic, and not only that they are not in line with the international and European standards regarding the area of protection of persons with disabilities, but they are even in contradiction with the proposed norm in Article 5, paragraph 1 of this Proposal, which states: “State bodies, state administration bodies, local self-government bodies, public companies and other legal and natural persons, within their competencies and authorities, are obliged to adopt, or to introduce and conduct regulations and special measures, focused on the creation of conditions for the realization of equality and protection of persons with disabilities, who are in an unequal position based on any ground compared to other persons.”

Upon the review of the comments and suggestions from public discussion by Working group, Ministry of human and minority rights failed to publish the Report from public debate on its internet page, thereby it did not inform interested parties to what extent it has acknowledged their suggestions. Additionally, it is particularly important to stress that the text of the Proposal of Law was not submitted to be reviewed by the members of the Council for care of persons with disabilities, sole body which deals exclusively with issues of persons with disabilities on national level, nor has this body had the opportunity to familiarize itself with the proposed text of the Law. Also, Ministry of human and minority rights most drastically violated the obligations and duties when it failed to inform the members of Working group on the process and changes which took place, after the Draft of the Law was submitted to be reviewed by European Commission (EU Delegation to Montenegro) and Secretariat for legislation.

Based on the information we gathered, key differences between the Draft and Proposal of Law took place when the same was submitted to ministries to be reviewed even though it was not clear why those ministries had representatives in Working group if those representatives were not competent to propose the norms before the Working group, and not to change the version of Draft after it was determined by the Working group. It remains unclear whether the European Commission had an insight in the last version of the text of Law before its submission to Government when it was expected from its representatives to provide their assessment of the harmonization.

Such ignorant relation towards the members of the Working group, particularly to those who provided the most of the contribution in the creation of the text of Law was completed with the submission of text to Government to be determined.

Such behavior is irresponsible to MPs as well, who won’t have enough time to analyze the law, thus placing themselves into an unfavorable position and suffer criticism by the public due to “frivolity” during the analysis and finally the harmonization and adoption of final text of the Proposal of Law.

We believe that the reason that stems from deadlines, defined with Action plan for the Chapter 19 – Social policy and employment and Action plan for Chapter 23 – Judiciary and fundamental rights, cannot be more important than the adoption of a quality law, law that would in fact guarantee the respect of rights of persons with disabilities in all areas of life regulated by the UN Convention on rights of persons with disabilities.

There is no good reason why this Law should be adopted in an inaccessible Parliament, which continues to discriminate great number of persons with disabilities and once more without the participation of those same persons in debates.

Should this regulation be adopted in its proposed form, even if it is amended to some extent in the parliamentary procedure, such state would lead to the initiation of new procedures for the protection from discrimination based on the mechanisms of protection from discrimination guaranteed to persons with disabilities with other regulation, due to its pointlessness and revolt caused by dissatisfaction.

Based on the abovementioned, we urged competent authorities, primarily the minister for human and minority rights to withdraw the Proposal of Law, so that it could be reviewed once again with the consultation of organizations of persons with disabilities and thus to improve the text, which could be adopted with delayed implementation if necessary, but for the good of those which rights it regulates, which should be its primary purpose.

The list of the organizations which have supported the initiative can be found here.

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