Today, the Human Rights Action (HRA) informed the President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatović, about the discriminatory nature of the Draft Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Law on Veterans and Disability Protection. The Law was adopted by the National Assembly of Montenegro on 8 May 2023, and it prescribed the institute of “civilian victims of war” in a selective fashion.
Yesterday, the President had a meeting with the representatives of the families of persons who were killed in the bombing of Murino in 1999, where he said that he will use his authority to advocate that the proposed changes to this Law be returned to the parliamentary procedure as soon as possible. We remind that this Law has already been adopted by voting; however, the previous president of Montenegro, Milo Djukanović, did not sign it, so the deadlines for its passing have expired.
The proposed definition of the institute of civilian victims of war was adopted at the initiative of Democrat MP Momo Koprivica, unjustifiably denying some of the civilian victims from the wars of the 1990s the right to compensation. It stipulates that only the victims of the armed conflict with NATO in Montenegro are to be considered civilian victims of war. This does include victims and families of victims of the bombing of Murino, but not families of other civilian victims from Montenegro who died as a result of armed conflicts that took place in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, such as e.g. passengers who were abducted from the train at the station in Štrpci or families of deported refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina living in Montenegro.
The HRA believes that prescribing the status of civilian victims of war must be one of the priorities, and we are encouraged by the position of President Milatović, who believes the same. However, it is necessary – and only right – that all civilian victims of the wars of the 1990s who live in Montenegro receive this status, as they are all equally important citizens of Montenegro and therefore must also be equal before the law. There is no justification for their exclusion based on ethnic origin and religion.