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Publication of the Clinic report into the independence of the Montenegro's judicial system

Viktoryia Konashava

2 Jul 2024

The preliminary findings of the report into the independence of Montenegro's judiciary system highlighted significant developments and ongoing challenges.

The long-standing governance by the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) had been marked by systemic corruption and public mistrust in the judiciary. The election of the pro-European Union party, Europe Now (PES), indicated a public desire for change, particularly in enhancing the rule of law and adhering to international standards. This change brought renewed efforts to transform the judiciary system to ensure greater independence and impartiality.

Recent legal reforms aimed at improving judicial independence were examined, focusing on the appointment and dismissal processes, and the disciplinary proceedings for judges and prosecutors. While some progress had been made, the analysis highlighted areas requiring further improvement to ensure full compliance with international standards. Deficiencies in preventing political interference in judicial appointments and dismissals were identified as critical issues needing attention.

A significant finding of the report was the need for a stronger commitment from Montenegrin authorities to uphold judicial independence. This included implementing necessary legal changes, adhering to constitutional limits, and ensuring the effective functioning of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils. The importance of cross-party dialogue and consensus in appointing high-level judicial positions was emphasized as essential to resolving ongoing institutional crises.

The report provided specific recommendations to guide Montenegro towards a more independent judiciary. These included increasing the number of peer-elected members in the Judicial Council and improving the procedures for disciplinary actions against judicial officers. Enhancing the transparency and accountability of judicial processes and promoting a culture of ethical conduct within the judiciary were also highlighted as crucial steps forward.

In conclusion, while Montenegro had made efforts to reform its judiciary, significant challenges remained. The findings indicated a clear need for continued legal reforms and a genuine commitment from all political actors to ensure judicial independence. With targeted legal changes and effective implementation, Montenegro could significantly improve its judicial system, paving the way for further integration into the European Union. The publication of this report aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of judicial independence in Montenegro and offer actionable recommendations to support ongoing and future reforms.

Working on this project was a great experience, especially contributing to the meaningful work of the ICJ. Diving into the standards for judicial independence was very valuable for us law students, as it underpins the principles of rule of law and democracy. Balancing the needs of the organization with our academic research was also a great way to blend theory with the practical experience we gained from the Clinic.

The visit to the ICJ was a highlight of our Brussels study trip. After months of online communication, it was great to finally meet everyone in person. We had an informative presentation about the organization's work, followed by an engaging Q&A session. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about working in the NGO sector and to connect with professionals in the field.

Montenegro's Judiciary Report
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