Today, when we mark the Day of the Montenegrin Judiciary, we wish to point out that Montenegro is the only country in Europe that does not have a functioning Constitutional Court. The election cycle in Montenegro started without the Constitutional Court, which speaks volumes about the political responsibility of the Parliament. Political subjects failed to make a compromise and elect judges of the Constitutional Court, so that the legal system of Montenegro would have a basic prerequisite for functioning. Thus, the irresponsibility of political subjects directly reflects on the legal and political system of the state. Apart from affecting the possibility that the official results of the recently conducted local elections will not be announced, the cases on which the Constitutional Court needs to decide will continue to accumulate. Moreover, perhaps the most serious consequence may occur if the effectiveness of the constitutional appeal is reviewed.
In addition to the obvious big problem of the lack of a functional Constitutional Court, our country faces major challenges and systemic deficiencies regarding several other significant issues.
It is necessary to carry out the election of three members of the Judicial Council from among distinguished lawyers, because the mandate of the existing members has long expired. In September of this year, the members of the Montenegrin Parliament decided to elect only one, instead of the proposed four members of the Judicial Council, even though many more candidates deserved the opportunity to become members of such an important body considering their resumes and work experience. Montenegro also received open criticism in this regard from many relevant addresses. Recommendations provided by the Venice Commission and GRECO refer to the elimination of political influence in the Judicial Council, which leads us to the need to abolish the provision that foresees membership of the Minister of Justice in this body. In order to implement this obligation, it is necessary to amend the Constitution of Montenegro in the part that refers to the Judicial Council. To this end, we invite the authorities to organize an open professional debate about who to elect as a member of the Judicial Council in place of the Minister of Justice.
The position of the President of the Supreme Court of Montenegro has been vacant since the end of 2020, and since then this position has been occupied by an acting president elected for a period of six months. The need to resolve this situation is evident, while the manner of announcing the public advertisement for the election of the Supreme Court President two days ago is also a cause for concern. Namely, there was no special item related to the announcement of the aforementioned advertisement on the agenda of the 5th session of the Judicial Council held on 26 October.
In addition, drafting and adoption of the new Strategy to rationalize the judicial network and realization of the program for the development of information and communication technologies of the judiciary must be at the top of the agenda of the competent institutions.
CA reminds the public that, if political entities fail to resolve the above issues related to the reform of the Montenegrin judiciary as soon as possible, they will be solely responsible for inhibiting the functioning of the legal and political system of Montenegro and its path to the European Union. That is why we call on them to urgently start the necessary dialogue and carry out much-needed reforms in the judiciary, and to place them among the highest priorities.