Protest over the unjustifiably shortened public debate on the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Social and Child Protection

Dear Prime Minister, Mr. Marković,

We protest against the decision of Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Mr. Kemal Purišić, for having drastically shortened the public debate on the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Social and Child Protection, despite the appeal of 14 non-governmental organizations. We believe that his actions are contrary to the law and reflect the formal approach to public debate, without the real wish to consult NGOs.

The Public Debate on the Draft law was launched on Friday, June 2, and ended only five days later, on Wednesday, June 7th. Government session was planned for the next day. It already foresaw the Law on Amendments to the Law on Social and Child Protection (point 2 of the agenda), which indicates that it was pre-calculated that any public discussion result would not affect the change of the Draft law made by the Ministry.

Within five days of the so-called “public debate”, only three of them were working days. Thus, it was not possible to get informed that the discussion had begun, nor to analyze all the proposed amendments to the law and make reasoned proposals, despite the desire to give an appropriate contribution. Moreover, during public debate’s round table, Minister Purišić said that there was even basis in the regulations not to conduct debate at all.

By contrary:

A) Article 97 of the Law on State Administration states that “for drafting laws that regulate the rights, obligations and legal interests of citizens, the Minister is obliged to publish the text of the draft law through the media and prepare an invitation for interested parties to make their remarks and suggestions”.

B) Article 9 of the Decree on the procedure and manner of holding a public debate states that public discussion on the text of the law should last at least 40 days.

Public debate can not be conducted only when it comes to the areas of defense, security, annual budget, emergency, urgent or unforeseen circumstances, and when a matter is not differently regulated by law (Article 4 of the Decree). This situation, where substantive changes to the Law on Social and Child Protection are made, does not fall under the above-mentioned criteria.

Unfortunately, despite many requests, representatives of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare did not respond to our question about basis of the claim that this public debate had not even had to be held. Allegedly, the goal of urgent changes of the Law is the enforcement of the Decision of Constitutional Court regarding the, so-called, “mothers’ benefits”. However, the deadline for the execution of this decision (submitting the Proposal of the Law to the Assembly -and not its adoption in the Assembly), expires on August 12th. It turns out that the rights of mothers with three or more children are not even regulated by this Draft Law, but by some other, so far unpublished Government’s decision. Also, the representatives of the Ministry did not explain or provide any analysis or report based on which they have made decision to propose those specific amendments to the Law on Social Protection.

Dear Prime Minister, we protest because of the lack of adequate debate, and we demand You to prevent an illegal practice of avoiding public debates on laws governing human rights, especially given the principle commitment of the Government to transparent work and cooperation with non-governmental organizations.

Tea Gorjanc Prelević, Executive Director, Human Rights Action (HRA)

Stevo Muk, President of the Managing Board, Institute Alternative (IA)

Maja Raičević, Executive Director, Center for Women’s Rights

Ivana Vujović, Executive Director, NGO Juventas

Kristina Mihailović, Executive Director, Association Parents

Aleksandar Jerotić, President, NGO Pandora

Slavko Milić, President, Defendology Center Montenegro

Marina Vujačić, Executive Director, UMHCG

Ljiljana Raičević, Executive Director, NGO Safe Women’s House

Goran Macanović, Executive Director, Association of the Blind of Montenegro

Ljupka Kovačević, Coordinator, ANIMA

Miluša Cica Žugić, Director, Association for Help to Psychophysical Disabled Persons Nikšić

Savo Knežević, President, First Association of Parents of Children and Youth with Special Needs

Danijel Kalezić, President of the Board of Directors, LGBTIQ Association KVIR Montenegro

Patricia Pobrić, Director, NGO Our Action

Vladan Golubović, Executive Director, NGO CAZAS

Saša Mijović, Director, NGO 4Life

Dejvid Sejdovic, member of the Board of Directors, Foundation Friendship’s hand

Milenko Vojičić, Executive Director, Association of Pleges Niksić

Biljana Zeković, Executive Director, SOS telephone for women and children victims of violence Podgorica

Ranko Mester, President, NGO Brain

Aida Perović Ivanović, Executive Director, NGO Prima

Velida Hodžić, Executive Director, NGO Ikre Rožaje

Vezira Ćosović, President, NGOs Let’s alleviate the life of children with special needs of Rožaje

Nikoleta Strugar, Executive Director, NGO Zinak

Mirsala Tomić, President, Association for the Development of Civil Society Bijelo Polje

Mirko Pavićević, President, NGO Family, Nikšić

NGO Liberal Order

NVO Heart

NGO Woman Today

NGO Society of Sociologists of Montenegro

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