The Venice Commission in its opinion published today welcomes “genuine efforts” of the Montenegrin authorities to replace the 1977 Law on legal position of religious communities with a new modern Law on freedom of religion and beliefs.
The Council of Europe legal experts welcome that the draft Law clearly provides that the registration of religious communities is not mandatory and is not a condition for the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion. Furthermore, it takes a quite liberal approach to registration conditions for religious communities: even very small communities with only three members, including foreigners with a permanent residence in Montenegro, have the right to be registered in Montenegro. The draft law respects the autonomy of religious communities to decide on their names and symbols. The same holds true concerning regulations of the draft law regarding the right of religious communities, either registered or unregistered, to religious teaching and to establish religious schools under certain conditions.
Concerning the process of preparation of the draft law, the opinion stresses the need that the authorities carry out inclusive and efficient consultations with the public, including representatives of religious communities. It also recommends that the Office of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms be consulted by the government in this process.