We are requesting a public debate on the Law on the Confiscation of Assets

International Human Rights Day in Montenegro

We are requesting a public debate on the Law on the Confiscation of Assets

The Human Rights Action (HRA) supports the appeal of the Network for the Affirmation of the Non-Governmental Sector (MANS) that the Parliament return to public debate the Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Law on Confiscation of Criminal Assets, which the Government enacted yesterday.

The Government had an obligation to ensure an appropriate public debate on the draft of this Law, in accordance with the Law on State Administration and the accompanying regulation stipulating that a debate must last at least 20 and no more than 40 days. We believe that it is necessary to hold public debates on key laws that affect human rights, such as the Law on the Confiscation of Assets.

The behaviour of the Ministry of Justice is particularly worrying if one takes into account that the Draft Law was approved on 5 August 2022, yet its text was published only after it was enacted at yesterday’s Government session. This means that, for more than four months, the interested public was unable to see a single article of this Law or influence its improvement by submitting suggestions.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. The Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on Courts was another act that was adopted at yesterday’s session without a public debate or prior publication of the text of the proposed changes. We remind the public that an adequate public debate, carried out in accordance with the regulations, was not provided concerning the amendments to the Law on the State Prosecutor’s Office either, which ultimately led to the termination of the mandate of members of the Prosecutorial Council and this body’s inability to operate for a period of six-months.

The European Commission criticised the lack of public debates, providing a recommendation that the Government re-examine the Draft Law on Confiscation of Criminal Assets and align its terminology with the definitions that were specified in Directive 2014/42/EU, the EU acquis and international conventions. We do not see a single justified reason not to accept the above recommendation.