Our colleague Ivana Đođić attended the Preparatory Meeting for the Universal Periodic Review on the state of human rights in Montenegro, which will be held in Geneva. The Preparatory meeting was organized by the United Nations Office in Montenegro. The meeting was held on March 24, 2023 in Ramada Hotel in Podgorica, where colleague Đođić spoke about the state of human rights in the area related to asylum seekers in Montenegro, persons under temporary and international protection, as well as persons at risk of statelessness and persons to whom such status is recognized.
For four years in a row, Civic Alliance has been providing free legal aid to asylum seekers, persons under international and temporary protection, and persons at risk of statelessness, with the support of UNHCR. We monitor individual cases from the moment when persons express their intention to apply for international protection, up to the final decision of the Ministry of Interior, and later in integration. In the event that the Ministry of Internal Affairs makes a negative decision, the CA legal team offers users the opportunity to file a lawsuit before the Administrative Court.
The normative and strategic mechanism has been significantly improved and strengthened in recent years; however, this does not mean that it works successfully as such. Working conditions in the Directorate for Asylum require improvement, and continuous work on employee training is necessary, as well as an increase in the number of employees, in order to improve the Directorate’s efficiency.
In Montenegro, the institute of temporary protection was implemented for the first time for persons from the territory of Ukraine who came as a result of the war in that country. We emphasize that the rights provided for by the Law on International and Temporary Protection of Foreigners are not in full harmony with the particular laws in Montenegro, and that these persons do not have access to all the envisaged rights.
When it comes to the procedure for determining the status of a stateless person, we can say that Montenegro has a legally regulated way of submitting a request and conducting the procedure, which is commendable, because there are not many countries in the world that have this procedure in their legislation. However, although according to the law, a request to determine the status of a stateless person can be submitted without any document, practice shows that a birth certificate is requested, which is often impossible to obtain. In addition, although there is a clearly stipulated obligation that interviews with applicants must be conducted within 15 days at the latest, this is not the case in practice.
The main shortcomings of the procedure for determining the status of a person are almost completely unregulated rights of persons who initiated the procedure for determining the status of a stateless person, as well as those persons to whom Montenegro has formally recognized the status of a stateless person.
The last, and perhaps the most important thing is that a person who receives stateless status does not automatically receive identity documents and it does they do not automatically meet the requirements for obtaining an identity document. The person must go through a new procedure for submitting an application for temporary residence in Montenegro, for which special requirements prescribed by law must be met.