The fifth Steering Committee meeting of the action “Improved procedural safeguards in judicial proceedings in Montenegro” took place in Podgorica on 19 April 2022.
The relevance of the action in the context of the EU accession process and the implementation of European standards was highlighted by all Steering Committee Members.
Despite concrete and tangible results achieved under the action’s auspices, additional efforts are needed to fully align the criminal legislation with the EU acquis and standards developed in the practice of the European Court of Human Rights. The ongoing revision of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedural Code should be finalised by mid-2022. Furthermore, expert support is required in revising the Law on Free Legal Aid, Law on Domestic Violence and Law on Misdemeanours.
Particular attention is put on the victims’ rights, so as to improve the access to justice for the victims of domestic violence. Even though the campaign #TellTheWholeStory led to an increase in the number of victims seeking free legal aid, the campaign needs to continue in order to ensure the sustainability of the results, and thereby enhance protection of the victims. In parallel, the work with the Bar Association continues with the aim to strengthen the capacities of free legal aid providers. On the same note, the work of the Victim Support Services needs to be further reinforced and promoted.
The discussion was led by the beneficiary institutions themselves, as the key actors for change, to identify possible ways forward within the action, and reach their common goal via their respective means.
In the coming months, the focus will be on capacity building activities, to ensure that relevant standards are applied in the daily work of legal practitioners. The next Steering Committee Meeting will take place in October 2022.
The action "Improved procedural safeguards in judicial proceedings in Montenegro" is a part of the joint European Union and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019-2022”.