Suppression of the control function of the Parliament: Two-thirds of control hearings rejected or pending

The parliamentary majority is questioning the right that the opposition has had since 2010, which guarantees a certain number of control hearings, which the majority representatives cannot hold back and outvote.

Since the beginning of the work of the 28th convocation of the Parliament of Montenegro, 14 initiatives were sent for control hearings, of which only 4 were held. To this number, one hearing should be added, which was already defined by the Work Plan of the Committee for Human Rights and Freedoms for 2023. Out of 4 held control hearings, two were initiatives of representatives of the parliamentary majority, and two were of the opposition.

That the suppression of the control function of the Assembly is at work is also shown by the fact that out of 7 “minority” initiatives of the opposition, only one was accepted and maintained, while the others were rejected, reformulated, or meaningless due to late scheduling.

For example, on March 15, a group of 5 opposition MPs submitted an initiative for a control hearing to the Committee for Security and Defense, which was supported by the Committee on the same day, and then the session was subsequently scheduled for June 26, over 3 months later. Such a practice renders the control function meaningless, both because of the actuality of the topic that needs to be discussed at the Committee, but also because the decision on the date of the hearing came only a month after the initiative was voted on.

Two minority initiatives addressed to the Committee for Economy, Finance, and Budget have been “on hold” since the beginning of March because the Collegium was requested to interpret the Rules of Procedure, while the minority initiative addressed to the Committee for European Integration remained without a quorum, as the parliamentary majority MPs did not attend the session at which it was discussed.

Despite the appeal of the president of the Committee for International Relations and Emigrants to schedule a control hearing based on the submitted minority initiative, the representatives of the parliamentary majority insisted on voting, which again suppressed this type of control mechanism.

What is a minority initiative?

Since 2010, the Law on Parliamentary Oversight in the Field of Security and Defense has recognised a “minority initiative”, i.e. the possibility that once during the regular session of the Assembly, the Committee holds a session at the request of one-third of the members, with one topic on the agenda. Initially, this right applied only to the Security and Defense Committee.

With the amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly from 2012, this possibility was given to all committees, specifically regarding the use of the supervisory mechanism of the control hearing. Article 75 of the Rules of Procedure then defined that once during the regular session of the Assembly, the committee decides on a control hearing, at the request of one-third of the committee members.

With the amendments to the Rules of Procedure from 2020, the minority initiative has been strengthened, so that instead of once, deputies can use it twice during the regular session.

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