The first meeting of the newly set up Working Group for drafting amendments to the Law on Judicial Council and Judges took place in Podgorica, under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights of the Government of Montenegro. The amendments are expected to further enhance the independence and professionalism of the judiciary, address the issues related to accountability and integrity of judges, and provide for better regulation of the rights and responsibilities of judges in Montenegro, in line with relevant European standards and established principles in the legal framework of Montenegro.
As noted in the most recent European Commission’s Montenegro 2021 Report, the legal framework on judicial independence is in place, however, additional efforts are needed to address the risks of possible political interference and to enhance the integrity and accountability of the judiciary. The legislation currently being drafted by the Working Group which consists of representatives of the Government, judiciary and civil society will therefore address a number of issues related to the Judicial Council, the status of judges, notably their appointment, promotion, dismissal, ethics and standards of professional behavior, in line with fundamental guarantees proclaimed by the Constitution of Montenegro and required under EU law.
The joint European Union and Council of Europe action “Accountability and professionalism of the judicial system in Montenegro” will support this important legislative process and assist the judicial, governmental and civil society partners to further improve the existing judicial policy framework and align with the European Commission, Venice Commission and Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) recommendations.
This activity falls within the scope of the Judicial Reform Strategy 2019 – 2022 and EU accession Action Plan for Chapter 23 and builds on the findings and recommendations developed during the previous course of the action, specifically on results of the joint activities implemented in 2019 and 2020 in improving regulations on appointment, evaluation and career advancement of judges and their ethical and disciplinary accountability.
This action “Accountability and professionalism of the judicial system in Montenegro” is part of the “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey 2019 - 2022”, joint European Union and the Council of Europe programme, which aims at assisting beneficiaries in the Western Balkans region and Turkey to comply with the Council of Europe standards and European Union acquis in different reform areas.