The Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI), in collaboration with the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) and the Network for the Affirmation of European Integration Processes (MAEIP), is implementing the project “Judicial Reform: Upgrading CSO’s capacities to contribute to the integrity of judiciary” (hereinafter: the Project), funded by the European Union and co-financed by the Ministry of Public Administration of Montenegro.
The Project aims to contribute to achieving a greater degree of the rule of law in Montenegro, which will be reflected in the assessment and enhancement of the professionalism, accountability, efficiency and integrity of the judiciary through the establishment of closer cooperation and more efficient mechanisms between civil society organizations and judicial institutions. The aim of this Project is also reflected in the improvement of the capacities of local organizations and greater involvement of the civil society in the judicial system reform in Montenegro and negotiations related to Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights).
One of the most significant Project activities is focused on the monitoring of judicial proceedings in the courts of Montenegro. Trial monitoring activities are conducted in accordance with the OSCE’s methodology for judicial proceeding monitoring, developed by CeMI and the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, as part of the trial monitoring program implemented in the period between 2007-2014. During the reporting period, which corresponds to the second year of the Project implementation, 642 cases were monitored by CeMI and CEDEM’s observers.
During the first reporting period, 150 cases (263 main hearings) were monitored by attendance of the hearing and the findings were presented in the first Annual Report on the monitored trials for the previous year. In the second reporting period, the observers monitored 492 cases by criminal case file examination in all the Basic Courts, and High Courts Podgorica and Bijelo Polje. The monitoring of judicial proceedings is conducted in accordance with the principles set out in the Memorandum of Cooperation, concluded between the Supreme Court of Montenegro, CeMI and CEDEM, at the very beginning of the project implementation. This Report presents preliminary results of the second year of monitoring the judicial proceedings (January 2019 – December 2019). The main objective of the Report was to assess, based on direct access to the trials monitored, the state of case law in Montenegro regarding the application of both domestic legislation and international standards of the right to a fair trial. Also, the conclusions and preliminary recommendations which are based on the identified shortcomings, and which are an integral part of this Report suggest that the relevant institutions should implement appropriate measures in order to achieve a fair and efficient judicial system in Montenegro.
The Report consists of an introductory section that outlines the methodology of trial monitoring and provides general guidance on the purpose and scope of the trial monitoring program. The central part of the Report covers the results of judicial proceedings monitoring, with preliminary conclusions and recommendations on how to improve the practice of adherence to the standards of fair trial by all participants in judicial proceedings in Montenegro.
In order to protect the right to privacy and respect for the independence of the courts, the Report does not specify the names of the judges and parties to the proceedings.
Finally, in the introductory part, we would like to express gratitude to all representatives of the judiciary, the prosecution, lawyers and other colleagues who enabled the observers of CeMI and CEDEM to carry out the first phase of the Project activities relating to monitoring court proceedings, in line with the planned dynamics and methodology. We expect that this quality cooperation with all participants in judicial proceedings will continue in the next stage of the Project implementation.