This process has been followed with several months of inappropriate campaign led by one group of NGOs, entailing numerous manipulations and false statements, which marred the reputation of NGO sector in general. We have principally decided to abstain from any public comments on Council of RTCG selection procedure until it has been completed, in order not to create pressure on MPs and to uphold the dignity of Parliament. Henceforth, we are now sending out the open letter to the interested public, in order to clarify the entire situation.
Parliament’s website features all the information on this process in transparent manner. Hence it has been difficult to understand the readiness of one RTCG Council candidate to ignore this fact and to abuse the public debates in order to exercise inappropriate pressure, together with his colleagues, over respective Parliamentary board, RTCG and very Council – by claiming that selection process has been illegal and illegitimate.
http://www.skupstina.me/~skupcg/skupstina/cms/site_data/25%20saziv%20ODBORI/ADMINISTRATIVNI/ Predlog%20liste%20za%20imenovanje%20Savjeta%20RTCG%20po%20ovla%C4%8D%C4%87enim%20predlaga% C4%8Dima.pdf
Now, we wish to inform the interested public that alleged letter of 125 NGOs to Administrative Board of Parliament – is falsification. Signatories have been forged and certain number of NGOs has been misled. It turned out that letters have been sent by one of the candidates, and not authorized representatives. Many NGOs from the list contacted Civic Alliance and denied that they had signed the statement. This building of supportive number of NGOs brings back the memories of an incident from one of previous Council of RTCG selection cycles. Aforementioned candidate, alongside his family members, participated in foundation of large number of phantom NGOs. Thus, he ensured, to use election terminology – secured votes and overwhelming election victory.
This unprecedented creativity towards assuming enjoyable public office – has been documented in one of MANS reports (http://www.mans.co.me/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/5-mn1.pdf) and it revealed that our civil sector is not immune to problems we mainly address to politicians. It also revealed that, despite the efforts to present themselves as a quality value based alternatives, certain NGO activists too often and too easily demonstrate that they are not interested in changes (of social practice) but only substitutions (in offices with solid financial compensations from state budget).
Luckily, in Montenegro – there is a sufficient number of NGOs, which are dedicated to address social problems. Their work is most appropriate way to sustain distance from operations of group symbolically represented by the mentioned NGO activist. Although – due to the intensity and thematic orientation of media presence of that group – one could get improper image of our NGO sector and what and how the sector should be doing.
Also, we would like to inform the interested public that statements on political influences over the selection process have been denied by the fact that representatives from all political parties reached the consensus on the validity of NGO documentation and entire process has been managed by Administrative board in transparent manner. At the end, with overwhelming majority – list of candidates has been endorsed by the Parliament.
During the mentioned campaign – the criteria of “tax declaration” has been disputed. Tax declaration means that NGO financial reports have to be submitted to Tax Directorate, so they could be easily verified by the competent institution. Negative campaign of mentioned NGO group pointed out that Administrative board surprisingly introduced this criteria in order to gave advantage to Civic Alliance’s candidate, and that other NGOs were not in familiar with this criteria. However, mentioned NGO colleague, which challenged this criteria, hidden the fact that he himself, during the previous selection process for RTCG council – submitted the written request to Administrative board and demanded to introduce the tax declaration criteria in order to ensure valid NGO financial reporting. Evidence of this request is attached to the letter.
Arguments that legal changes took place in meantime are not acceptable – since those changes address only on the reporting for 1 out of 3 years, which is the mandatory obligation for all NGOs which proposed candidates for this process. This has been recognized by the Administrative board and taken into consideration during the decision making. Above-mentioned link contains the Board’s Minutes with supporting arguments.
Parliament’s website also features the Minutes and Table for each NGO with identified shortcomings (http://www.skupstina.me/index.php/me/administrativni-odbor/aktuelnosti/item/2110-odrzana-31-srdnica-administrativnog-odbora). It allows for easy verification of all malicious claims and authentication which standpoints were accurate and which were not. Now, when political pressures are in question – we call upon this group of NGOs to reveal the details of conversation that they had with political parties.
Having in mind that one of the elected Council members has denied the legality and legitimacy of selection process, it would be interesting to follow up – whether he would accept the membership in the Council or he would allow the option for actual human rights advocates or authentic representative of marginalized groups (Roma, LGBT, PwD) to enter the Council.
We are proud for nominating the person which has been for years dedicated to the human rights protections. Milan Radovic has been working for 10 years with human rights violations’ victims and their families, on cases which cannot be seen on impotent round tables, expensive hotels or luxury vineries and restaurants. He managed the development of numerous annual human rights reports in Montenegro (cited by international organizations in their appraisals of Montenegrin reforms), he has active role in drafting of respective legislation and work of competent Parliamentary board, and he stands as the authentic representative of non-governmental sector in the area of human rights.
By nominating the candidate with such profile, Civic Alliance reiterates that we engaged with Council of RTCG – not because we are pro or against the Government (which is the regretful level, to which most of the stories on Montenegrin reforms comes down, and NGO activists, unfortunately, have very active role in promoting such approach). We have entered this story – only to provide modest contribution to the improved work of one public interest serving institutions.
Finally, we are very unhappy that other members of Council have suffered collateral damage from attacks of unprincipled NGOs, but we also hope that this painful phase shall be quickly forgotten as the result of positive track record of new Council. We are convinced that our colleague Milan Radovic would perform his Council’s office in transparent and principled manner, representing the human rights and professional principles, and not lead his personal battles. If otherwise, we are ready to face the responsibility.
Programme director CA