HRA report from the latest session of the Judicial Council

6 NGOs Protest the Appointment of the Presiding Judge of the Constitutional Court
Appointment of the eighth court president despite legal ban

HRA report from the latest session of the Judicial Council

The Judicial Council has held a session on Friday, 7 February, when it interviewed one candidate each for positions of presidents of the Basic Courts in Žabljak and in Pljevlja, Mihailo Anđelić, former President of the Basic Court in Žabljak and Marina Jelovac, a judge of the Basic Court in Pljevlja.

HRA welcomes the decision of the Judicial Council to reconsider the former way of interviewing candidates for judges and presidents of courts and to conduct the interviews with candidates for presidents of the Basic Courts in Pljevlja and Žabljak in accordance with the Law of the Judicial Council and Judges, the Rules of Procedure of the Judicial Council and the Interview Guidelines.

However, by considering the candidacy of Mihailo Anđelić for the position of the President of the Basic Court in Žabljak, although he has been elected to that position four times so far, the Judicial Council acted contrary to the Law of the Judicial Council and Judges, which prohibits that a person is being elected president of the same court more than twice. HRA highlights that the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (Groupe d’Etats contre la corruption – GRECO) recommended to Montenegro to limit the excessive concentration of powers in the judiciary and that it recently in that sense criticized third election of Vesna Medenica as President of the Supreme Court, as well as the elections of presidents of courts, which were appointed at least three times to the same functions.

Now, in the case of Mihailo Anđelić’s election to perform the function of president of the Basic Court in Žabljak, although he already performed the same role in four mandate before, the legal prohibition will be violated, and the recommendations of GRECO, whose aim is to prevent corruption, will again not be respected.

We recall that HRA warned the Judicial Council a total of three times that it had conducted interviews improperly when selecting candidates for judges and court presidents, starting with the first election under the new system in 2016. The last protest was made to the Judicial Council to repeat the interview of 8 July 2019 with 41 candidates and not to execute an election decision based on a procedure in which no candidate could have been objectively evaluated according to the four legal criteria, where seven candidates did not receive a single question at the interview and the other candidates received irrelevant questions, not even approximate to the prescribed Interview Guidelines, on the basis of which answers could be obtained for evaluating legal criteria.

Due to such unlawful conduct of the Judicial Council, the HRA, MANS and Institute of Alternative submitted a criminal charge on 13 September 2019 to the Special State Prosecutor’s Office (SSP) against all members of the Judicial Council. The criminal charge explained in detail the suspicion that all members of the Judicial Council committed the following criminal offences Misuse of Office (Article 416 of the Criminal Code (CC)), Malpractice in Office (Art. 417 of the CC), Trading in Influence (Art. 422 of the CC), Counterfeiting Documents (Art. 412 of the CC) and Violation of Equality (Art. 159 of the CC), but the prosecution dismissed this criminal charge without an explanation.