Right to a trial within a reasonable time – analysis of national legislation and practice
The Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI), in cooperation with the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM), European Integration Affirmation Network (MAEIP) is implementing a project entitled “Judicial Reform: Upgrading CSO’s capacities to contribute to the integrity of judiciary”, with the support of the Delegation of European Union in Montenegro. The project aims to contribute to the achievement of a higher level of rule of law in Montenegro, reflected in increasing the level of professionalism, accountability, efficiency and integrity of the judiciary and strengthening cooperation between the civil society and judicial institutions. In addition, the project aims to strengthen the capacity and greater involvement of civil society in judicial reform and accession negotiations under Chapter 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights).
The most important activity of the project is the monitoring of criminal proceedings in Montenegro, selected by the method of random selection, but also the so-called targeted cases that arouse great public interest. Observers were not focused on the meritum of the observed cases, but only on the respect of procedural guarantees in accordance with international fair trial standards and relevant national legislation. The results of the trial monitoring are presented to the expert and general public through annual reports, as well as special thematic reports related to the implementation of new criminal justice institutes (plea agreement and deferred prosecution), as well as to specific aspects of the observed court proceedings: trial within a reasonable time, respect of the presumption of innocence and the right of access to court.
The thematic report before you is the result of the work of the trial monitoring team, made up of representatives of the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CeMI) and the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM). In the period from February 22 of 2018 to November 1 of 2019, a team of monitors followed 228 criminal cases and 453 main hearings in 9 basic courts (Basic Court in Podgorica, Basic Court in Nikšić, Basic Court in Danilovgrad, Basic Court in Bar, Basic Court in Cetinje, Basic Court in Plav, Basic Court in Berane, Basic Court in Rožaje, Basic Court in Kolašin) and in the High Court in Podgorica.
Trial monitors and experts of non-governmental organizations CEMI and CEDEM stated their experiences from monitoring the named trials throughout this thematic report, aware of the importance which a trial within a reasonable time has for any judicial proceeding, as a part of the right to a fair trial. In addition, we have made an effort, through this report, to further promote the importance and mechanisms of protecting the right to a trial within a reasonable time.