21/ 10/ 2012 Urgent need for judicial reforms

Monitoring of Journalistic Self-Regulatory Bodies in Montenegro
30/ 10/ 2012 Conduct of Police Directorate members on the occasion of the basketball match

21/ 10/ 2012 Urgent need for judicial reforms

The EU Report on Montenegro’s progress towards EU accession for 2012 indicates that, despite some progress that Montenegro has achieved, the independence of its judicial system continuous to raise serious concerns.  Human Rights Action (HRA) stresses out this issue since independent and accountable judiciary is a necessary condition for the protection of fundamental human rights, as well as for combating corruption and organized crime.

The European Commission in its report, in addition to incomplete constitutional reform, noted, once more, that “promotion criteria for judges and prosecutors lack clarity and objectivity due to the lack of periodical professional assessment of judges and prosecutors’ performance”.

To ensure the guarantees of independence and accountability of the judiciary it is necessary to establish a consistent system for evaluation of candidates for judicial positions as well as regular assessment of the elected judges and prosecutors enabling thus their objective career advancement.  It is necessary to prescribe parameters for evaluation of the criteria for the election and the promotion, which unfortunately has not been done to date. HRA noted this issue in its report “Judicial Council of Montenegro – Analysis of operation (2008 – 2012) [1]”, published on 12 July 2012.

Circumstances like this, combined with the lack of reasoning in the Judicial Council decisions on selection of candidates, raise doubts about impartiality and objectivity of career advancement system in the judiciary. Moreover, broad and imprecise parameters for impeachment of judges and prosecutors without mandatory regular performance assessment of each individual leads to a situation in which only some judges, based on arbitrary assessment of president of court, are called on to take responsibility. During the past, four year long, mandate of the Prosecutorial Council, there were absolutely no proceedings for determining disciplinary responsibility or dismissal of prosecutors or their deputies.

Since 2008, HRA advocates for regular assessment of judges and prosecutors’ performance based on the extended assessment criteria of the work results. HRA reiterates again that it is essential to prescribe in the Rules of Procedure of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils precise parameters for evaluation of criteria and sub-criteria fulfilment, as stipulated by the law. In addition, regular assessment should be introduced, as noted by the EU too.

HRA continues to monitor operation the Judicial and Prosecutorial Council thanks to the support of the USAID and Open Society Foundations.


[1] The report is available at www.hraction.org