The Ministry of Justice organised a public discussion on the Draft Law Amending the Law on Free Legal Aid, which lasted until 9 September 2014.
Human Rights Action (HRA) believes that the new version of the Law brings improvements, especially regarding the means test for exercising the right to free legal aid, which means that more poor persons will now be able to exercise this right.
However, HRA still urges the Ministry of Justice to extend the free legal aid to the administrative proceedings, in accordance with practice in the region and recommendations of international bodies, especially because many poor people exercise their rights related to social care in such proceedings etc.
Furthermore, HRA proposed that children who do not receive child support should have the right to free legal aid, as it is the case in Croatia, especially because the level of non-payment of child support is increasing in Montenegro, judging from the rise of criminal charges for that offence.
HRA also suggested that victims of abuse by public officials are entitled to free legal aid, particularly bearing in mind that police officers accused of abuse, i.e. the ” extensive use of force” have the right to free legal aid (under the Law on Interior Affairs).
HRA suggested that free legal aid in Montenegro should be provided not only by lawyers, but also by trade unions, NGOs, university law clinics that already provide legal assistance, as it is, for example, the case in Croatia.