Judges of the Constitutional Court to Resign

On the occasion of the decision of the Constitutional Court by which that court revoked as unconstitutional its previous decision on the election of Judge Desanka Lopičić to the position of “presiding judge”, NGOs Human Rights Action (HRA), Center for Civil Liberties (CEGAS), European Association for Law and Finance Association (EALF), Institute Alternative (IA), Institute for the Rule of Law (IVP) and Network for Affirmation of NGO Sector (MANS) consider that judges Desanka Lopičić, Hamdija Šarkinović, Dragoljub Drašković and Mevlida Muratović, who voted for the unconstitutional decision in January and persisted on it for 10 months, should resign and no longer hold any public office. We find it inappropriate that after 10 months of unconstitutional action they continue to be authorised to decide whether something is in accordance with the Constitution or not.

We suspect that the goal of creating the function of a “presiding judge” was actually to keep Judge Desanka Lopičić, close to formerly ruling political party Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) by all means in the leading position during the election year, although she in particular, who had previously served as president of that court, should have been precluded from being in that office. Ms. Lopičić was elected a judge of the Constitutional Court on the proposal of the President of the State, Filip Vujanović, the candidate of the Democratic Party of Socialists.

The majority of the four mentioned judges have been preventing the election of the president of the court from being put on the agenda for months. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court was passive and silently observed how the outgoing Government adopted and implemented controversial and constitutionally problematic decisions related to epidemiological measures on the fight against the coronavirus and the electoral process, which caused discrimination, violation of equality and restriction of human rights and freedoms.

The Constitutional Court is continuously hampered with political influence, and as such cannot produce the necessary integrity of that high institution that should stand in defence of the protection of human rights and the rule of law.

We remind that already on February 5, our six non-governmental organisations sent a detailed letter with arguments in which we appealed to all judges of the Constitutional Court to immediately repeal the disputed decision on the election of the “presiding judge”, for the same reasons cited by the same court ten months later.

The Constitutional Court did not respond to our letter or change its position until recently, despite criticism from the European Commission in a “non-paper” in June and finally in a report on Montenegro published on 6 October.

Lack of impartiality and independence of the Constitutional Court cannot benefit anyone, especially not a state whose accession to the EU directly depends on trust in the work of its institutions

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