The Human Rights Action (HRA), the Network for the Affirmation of the Non-Governmental Sector (MANS) and the Association of Lawyers of Montenegro (UPCG) are appealing to the current “dissolved” convocation of the Assembly of Montenegro to suspend the adoption of new laws to preserve constitutionality and legal certainty. Namely, since the decree on the dissolution of the Assembly was passed almost two months ago, this institution has had no other legitimacy than to perform “current and urgent tasks”. We are also appealing to the Government of Montenegro, which had lost confidence more than 8 months ago, to suspend legislative initiatives.
The parliamentary elections scheduled for June 11 should be the priority, as they will provide the new convocation of the Assembly with legitimacy necessary for adopting laws, and the new Government with legitimacy for proposing new legislative solutions.
We recall that in less than two months, that is, since March 16 when the Parliament of Montenegro was dissolved by decree of the President of the State, the Parliament has adopted no less than 14 laws and considered 7 more. The 14 included, among other things, amendments to the Law on the Central Bank and the Law on Electronic Communications, which introduced significant systemic changes, primarily those related to the procedure for appointing top people in those institutions. They certainly should not have been adopted by an Assembly that does not have full legitimacy.
Specifically, the amendments to the Law on the Central Bank stipulate that the Assembly is to appoint the Governor based on a public competition and on the proposal of the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Budget, instead of the current legal solution according to which the Assembly elects the Governor on the proposal of the President of the State.
On the other hand, the amendments to the Law on Electronic Communications envisage, among other things, a change in the status of the Agency for Electronic Communications, which should be accountable for its work to the Government, and not to the Assembly as currently prescribed. The amendments also foresee that the procedure for electing the Council of the Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Activities will be changed so that they are elected by the Government instead of the Assembly, in a public competition, thus jeopardizing the independence of that regulator as a whole. The amendments also introduce unlimited mandates for the President and members of the Council of the Agency, as well as for the Director of the Agency, which is quite unusual and a cause for concern.
At the same time, the above 14 adopted laws are “on hold”, i.e. did not enter into force because the President of the State, Milo Djukanović, has been refusing to sign and promulgate them since the day he dissolved the Assembly. Consequently, none of these laws are in fact producing any legal effect. At the same time, there was the announcement by the newly elected President Jakov Milatović that, after the parliamentary elections, he will refer all these laws to the new convocation of the Assembly for repeated voting. We support this solution and appeal that the above laws be withdrawn from the procedure and returned to the stage of public debate, which was unjustifiably absent.
The fact that certain legal solutions were adopted without a public debate, without the opinion of the European Commission, contrary to the positions of relevant international organisations, without serious analyses or containing anti-systemic solutions that satisfy only particular interests, is a special problem.
Such activities of the “dissolved” convocation of the Assembly can leave serious consequences for the rule of law, legal certainty and the negotiation process of Montenegro with the EU, especially concerning the negotiation chapters that deal with the independence of the institutions defined by the constitution and the prevention of “inappropriate political influence”.
Accordingly, the Association of Lawyers of Montenegro (UPCG), the Network for the Affirmation of the Non-Governmental Sector (MANS) and the Human Rights Action (HRA) call on the leadership and deputies of the Assembly of Montenegro to stop proposing and adopting new laws, and on the Government of Montenegro to stop submitting new legal initiatives, as neither body has the confidence or legitimacy to perform its functions in full mandate, especially after May 16, when the deadline for the submission of lists for the next parliamentary elections is set to expire.