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The Civic Alliance welcomes the Annual Report of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). We believe that a realistic and objective assessment was given on the implementation of measures related to the prevention of corruption among judges.

The latest scandals that are shaking Montenegrin judiciary only speak to the fact that it is necessary to work hard to eradicate corruption from the judiciary, which would ultimately result in creating the rule of law and restoring citizens’ trust in the judiciary. For years, we have been pointing to the need for transparent procedures in the selection of judges and objective evaluation of their work, but the situation has not changed. For instance, the last session of the Judicial Council was a closed one and the public was excluded due to the alleged lack of space. During that session, interviews with candidates for the Administrative Court Chairman were on the agenda. Although the law clearly stipulates that sessions be open to the public, the election process was not transparent and violated the law at a time when trust in the judiciary was at its lowest and when it was necessary for the Judicial Council to regain public confidence. By avoiding transparency, it is not possible to achieve independence and autonomy of the courts, as the main postulates on which the judicial profession is based. Furthermore, the credibility and integrity of the institution cannot be built, and, most importantly, guarantees that the processes within the judiciary are in the interest of the citizens.

It is necessary to remove corrupt individuals from the system, who through their actions or inactions in the previous period caused great damage to the judiciary and tarnished the reputation of all judges, although we are sure that the number of dedicated and professional judges who do their job in accordance with the law is greater. Guided by this, the work of the courts is viewed by public through the prism of individual cases that degrade the reputation of other employees in the judiciary, thus creating a distorted image of the judiciary.

The Civic Alliance has been conducting research among citizens on the subject of trust in the judiciary for years, and almost half of the surveyed citizens indicated that they did not trust the judiciary as judges tend to be susceptible to influence, citing bribery and political influence as the main reason.

We appeal to all relevant factors on the Montenegrin political scene to place this issue as the top priority on their agenda when it comes to the fight against corruption at all levels. We wish to use this opportunity to invite judges, but also other employees of the judiciary who perform their work in accordance with the law, to give full support and contribution in the process of building a stable and reliable judicial system, bearing in mind that the judiciary is a pillar of democracy and human rights.

Zoran Vujičić, Deputy Program Director