Two years of the 27th convocation of the Parliament: The neglect of obligations behind the facade of parliamentary supervision

Votes of no confidence in the 42nd and 43rd Governments, decisions to launch parliamentary investigations, and weakening of party monopolies – although these speak in favour of a more significant role of the Parliament of Montenegro, they have not reflected qualitative and sustainable progress in the parliamentary control of the executive.

A more detailed illustration of the Parliament’s work during the previous two years indicates a weak performance of control activities and the neglect of very important obligations by Members of the Parliament (MPs).

Two years after the constitution of the 27th ­­­­convocation of the Parliament, we do not have a draft Law on the Parliament. The work on this important regulation was renewed at the beginning of July 2022. Five meetings of the working group were held, but the public has not been informed yet about potential developments in the regulation of the work of the Parliament.

The Parliamentary committees in the current convocation have proposed a total of sixteen reports deriving from control ­­hearings. Only five reports contain specific conclusions after an organised hearing. In all the other cases, MPs mainly deemed that they could not propose conclusions having in mind that these matters are of concern to other bodies, or that the discussion was conducted based on the documentation marked with a level of secrecy.

This means that besides the discussion about certain topics, the hearings did not have wider implications either for the strengthening of parliamentary supervision or for the systemic action of MPs vis-à-vis certain areas of governance. Otherwise, the fact that they used secret data during the discussion would not be an obstacle to, for example, proposing a way to systematically improve performance of certain institutions.

The fact that over 90% of MPs (76 out of 81) participated in initiatives for a vote of no confidence in the Governments in the past year speaks best of the turbulent parliamentary life in Montenegro. Two initiatives in the span of only six months (February-August 2022) were successful and resulted in a vote of no confidence in the 42nd and 43rd Governments of Montenegro. The fact that, during half a year, this mechanism of control of the executive branch was successfully used twice, in comparison to several failed attempts in 2010, 2012 and 2016, speaks of the strengthened role of the Parliament.

The consideration of reports on the situation in certain areas or on the work of institutions is not being used enough to strengthen the control role of the Parliament. This is best illustrated by the example of the Security and Defence Committee, which, out of seven reports submitted by the Police directors from 2018 to this day, considered only one report on the results of the fight against organised crime and corruption, and the last one in mid-2019.

It is commendable that for the first time, after seven years, the decisions to commence two parliamentary investigations were adopted:

  • To gather the information and facts about actions related to the work of State bodies and other subjects regarding the Možura wind power plant project;
  • To gather the information and facts about actions of the Ministry of the Interior – the Police Administration and the National Security Agency on September 4 and 5, 2021 in Cetinje.

However, the inquiry committees for conducting parliamentary investigations in these cases have not been formed yet.

In principle, the standing parliamentary committees have been passive. The best indicator for this is the fact that certain committees had not held a single session in the first five months of 2022, such as the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms and the Anti-Corruption Committee.

Some hearings were not held even several months after the decision to hold them had been made. Thus, the control and consultative hearings of the representatives of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption before the Anti-Corruption Committee regarding the rulings of the Administrative Court for the officials of the former regime and the relationship between the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and the prosecution in the realisation of the European agenda in Chapters 23 and 24, were not carried out. Initiatives for their organisation were adopted on October 27, 2021. The Anti-Corruption Committee is also the most passive committee, with only six sessions held and one joint session organised with the Committee on Political System, Judiciary and Administration in two years.

Although the commencement of the 27th convocation of the Parliament was marked by significant strides in terms of transparency, through broadcasting committees’ sessions and improving the webpage, there are noticeable shortcomings in this matter as well. For example, the chronology of the discussion during plenary sessions is available only ending with the session held on July 27, although several important sessions of the Parliament were held after that. Furthermore, the report on the work of the Parliament for 2021, as well as the semi-annual report on legislative and oversight activities of the Parliament of Montenegro for the period between January 1 and July 1, 2022, have not been published.

The Institute Alternative will continue to remind MPs of their legal obligations and to advocate for more consistent and sustainable use of parliamentary supervision mechanisms.

Milena Muk

Institute Alternative

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