The Judicial Council, the Bar Association, President of the Basic Court in Podgorica and High Court in Podgorica – competent to determine violations of the rules of professional ethics and disciplinary responsibility of judges and the attorney who acted in a bias and unprofessional manner in criminal trial against Moldovan citizen Svetlana Čabotarenko (S.Č) – denied competence or ignored our complaints submitted five months ago, thus failing to fulfill their legal obligations in accordance with their jurisdiction. Apparently there is no will to act in this case because of the position of the Prime Minister of Montenegro that this case of abuse, forcing into prostitution and trafficking of S.Č. was invented in order to prevent the political independence of Montenegro. However, no evidence was offered to support this claim, and those that had been offered in the criminal proceeding against S.Č. for perjury are notorious in covering up trafficking in human beings. We would like to reitterate that in this case, unfortunately, noone scrutinize the evidence, because the judges and court-appointed attorney acted obviously partially and unprofessionally, in a way that should not be a tribute to judicial and attorney profession in a Member State of the Council of Europe aiming at membership in the European Union. We expect that at least the MPs of the Montenegrin Parliament and the European Commission will pay due attention to this case when assessing the capacity of institutions – the Judicial Council and the Bar Association of Montenegro – to ensure the rule of law and respect for professional ethics.
The Disciplinary Prosecutor of the Bar Association of Montenegro Živko Savović, president of the Bar Association Zdravko Begović, President of the Basic Court in Podgorica Zoran Radović and the President of the Commission for Judicial Code of Ethics Dobrica Šljivančanin completely ignored our complaint from December 2014 regarding conduct of attorney Bosko Laličić and judges Goran Đuković, i.e. Miljana Pavlićević, Hasnija Simonović and Evica Durutović in the criminal proceedings against Moldovan citizen S.Č, despite the submitted urgencies. Such conduct is inonsistent with their responsibilities and inappropriate to the reputation of the functions they perform.
The President of the High Court in Podgorica Boris Savić declined his jurisdiction to review the merits of the complaints on the work of judges of the High Court in Podgorica, Miljana Pavlićević, Hasnija Simonović and Evica Durutović, as well as the Basic Court in Podgorica judge Goran Đuković, on the grounds that the same complaint was already submitted to the Judicial Council. He expected the Judicial Council to assess whether it would be necessary that he deals with this complaint, and since the Judicial Council never adressed him with this regard, he did not act upon the complaint, although he was directly competent to do so.
The decision of the Judicial Council to decline jurisdiction for dealing with our complaint is particularly disappointing because we expected this body to exercise its jurisdiction at full capacity and restore confidence in the independence of the judiciary in its new mandate, as announced by its president professor PhD Mladen Vukčević. The Council’s decision was not based on any applicable Montenegrin regulation, but on the Venice Commission’s opinion that the Judicial Council shouldn’t be responsible for reviewing complaints against judges, which is contrary to the explicit solutions of the Constitution and Montenegrin legislation. The Judicial Council member and president of the Commission for Judicial Code of Ethics, Dobrica Šljivančanin, ignored the complaint which highlighted multiple violations of the Code by judges, possibly because the complaint encompassed performance of the Commission for Judicial Code of Ethics’s member Hasnija Simonović. (The Commission for Judicial Code of Ethics has a total of three members).
Although we submitted the initiative to the Supreme State Prosecutor to file an extraordinary legal remedy (a request for protection of legality) with the Supreme Court against a final judgment convicting S.Č in order to declare it illegal, neither the Supreme State Prosecutor nor the Supreme Court have the jurisdiction for determining violations of the Code of Judicial Ethics, but instead the Commission for Code of Judicial Ethics, chaired by Dobrica Šljivančanin, Judicial Council member; Neither the Supreme State Prosecutor nor the Supreme Court have jurisdiction to determine disciplinary responsibility or dismiss judges, as do the presidents of the Basic Court in Podgorica and High Court in Podgorica and the Judicial Council, nor has the Supreme State Prosecutor jurisdiction to prosecute complaints of violations of the Code of Professional ethics of attorneys, but the disciplinary prosecutor of the Bar Association, Živko Savović.
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A detailed context and analysis of this specific case along with reasoning of the decisions with which the institutions declared themselves incompetent is available here.
Tea Gorjanc-Prelević, executive director Human Rights Action
Ljiljana Raičević, executive director Women’s Safe House
Maja Raičević, executive director Women’s Rights Center