NGO Human Rights Action today appealed to the Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Kemal Purišić, to extend the duration of the public debate on the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Social and Child Protection in accordance with the Government’s Regulation on the procedure and manner of conducting public debate in preparing laws and provide sufficient time for the public to substantially contribute to the debate on this very important law for safeguarding human rights in Montenegro.
The public debate on the draft law was launched on Friday, June 2, and was planned to last five days, until Wednesday, June 7, although this deadline, according to the Regulation, could not be less than 20 days.
The Ministry explained the short public debate with the need to “in due time enforce the decision of the Constitutional Court” on the right of beneficiaries based on the birth of three children.
However, this explanation is unacceptable and the deadline should be extended for the following reasons:
The anticipated deadline for the execution of the decision of the Constitutional Court is August 12 this year, i.e. three months from the date of publishing the decision in the Official Gazette, and so this deadline cannot justify shortening the deadline for public debate.In explanation of the decision of the Constitutional Court says: “The Constitutional Court ruled that the execution of this decision includes the regulation of the legal situation resulting from the termination of the unconstitutional provisions of the Law, so that the Government within three months from the publication of this decision in the “Official Gazette of Montenegro”, submitted a draft law to the Parliament of Montenegro by which will the legal status of the beneficiary of the right to compensation based on the birth of three or more children, which was recognized on the basis of unconstitutional provisions of the Law, to harmonize with the legal positions of the Constitutional Court expressed in this decision.” The decision was published in the Official Gazette of Montenegro no. 31/2017 on 12 May 2017.
The fact that the judge of the Constitutional Court, Miodrag Iličković, who participated in the decision of the Constitutional Court whose execution is rushed with the urgent amendment to the Law, contested the legality of that decision requires serious and impartial investigation of action of all relevant in this case before the haste execution of the decision.
Although the urgent amendments to the law have been justified with the need to implement the decisions of the Constitutional Court, the Ministry has not limited itself to the rights of particular beneficiaries, but dealt with the substantive amendments of other rights arising from the law as well, such as social air regarding personal disability, family allowances, etc., without proper explanation.The Ministry proposed changes without previous analysis. In particular, it is not known whether and if so, in which way the effects of the introduced social welfare information system i.e. Social card were analysed. We recall that the social card was introduced in order to prevent the abuse of rights from social and child protection and enable that budget allocations reach those who really needed them. According to our information from the field, the actual situation still does not correspond to the situation “in papers” in terms of assets available to beneficiaries, while abuse continues to occur in practice. We believe that the amendments should align with these findings, particularly bearing in mind that those concern large number of beneficiaries.
Although the short time frame does not allow us to thoroughly analyse proposed amendments, we note that also on this occasion the Ministry bypassed recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights addressed to Montenegro in December 2014, from which particularly we point out the recommendation to increase amounts of social benefitsto ensure an adequate standard of living for individuals and families, especially for the unemployed, the elderly and persons with disabilities.
HRA notes that it is not provided neither implementation of the recommendation of the same UN Committee to adequately care persons that in the absence of appropriate accommodation still reside in a psychiatric hospital at Dobrota(although their medical condition allows them to leave the hospital – so-called. Social patients). We emphasize that it is unacceptable and contrary to international human rights standards the transfer of persons from one institution to another, which is planned within the proposed establishment of social and health institutions. We recall that institutional care, primarily, characterized segregation, exclusion from the community, lack of privacy and personal autonomy, loss of control over their lives, and that such approach of solving the problem is quite opposite to the standards of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which also protects the rights of people with mental disabilities.
 The Regulation was published in the “Official Gazette of Montenegro”, no. 12/2012 from 24 February 2012, Article 7, paragraphs 1 and 4: “The process of consultation with interested public starts prior by notice on the ministry’s website and e-government portal … The deadline for submission of initiatives, proposals, suggestions and comments in written and electronic form, cannot be less than 20 days from publication of the call referred to in paragraph1 of this Article.”