The Human Rights Action (HRA) once again appealed to the Parliament of Montenegro and the Montenegrin Government to abandon the adoption of the Draft Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Law on Confiscation of Material Benefit Derived from Criminal Activity, because it is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, in the part where confiscation of assets in the context of criminal proceedings is placed within civil proceedings.
This was concluded and explained for HRA by Dr. Dragoljub Popović – attorney, former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade – whose opinion we submitted to the Committee for Political System, Judiciary and Administration of the Parliament of Montenegro and the Ministry of Justice.
Attorney and Doctor of Law Popović believes that, in its current form, the Draft Law is in contradiction with the Convention and the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, and that it contains a solution that is not found anywhere in comparative law. “Instead of clearly expressing the subsidiary character of confiscation outside of criminal proceedings, the Draft takes that form of confiscation as a rule”, he concluded.
He recommended that the Draft Law be either completely withdrawn from legislative procedure, or that the provisions relating to the establishment of the competence of the Protector of Property-Legal Relations to act in the matter of confiscation be omitted. He believes that, for the fight against crime, it would be much more effective to strengthen the existing competent authorities – namely, the state prosecutor’s office and the police.
The Human Rights Action published Dr. Popović’s reasoned opinion and submitted it to the working group the competent parliamentary committee established to re-examine the Draft Law, before said group completed its work. We obtained the opinion thanks to the Sigrid Rausing Trust’s support for the work of the Human Rights Action.
We expect the Parliament and the Government to adopt the same practice, and to immediately publish all the opinions of domestic and foreign experts they possess on this Draft Law (as well as other drafts and proposals) on their websites, thus making them available to the public, especially since these opinions were provided to Montenegro, where the bearer of sovereignty is a citizen (Article 2 of the Constitution). Therefore, there is no justification for failure to publish knowledge that was acquired for the benefit of the citizens.