Montenegrin judiciary still does not enjoy necessary level of public’s confidence, which has fallen from 48% to 34% since December 2017, it is said at the conference held by CeMI. The conference was organized within the framework of the project, titled “Judicial reform: Improving the Capacity of Civil Society Organizations to Contribute to the Integrity of the Judiciary”.
Zlatko Vujovic, CeMI board president, said that despite significant progress in previous period, especially in regard to shortening trial length, the improvement of enforcement procedure and successful introduction of new institutes, the reform still had certain limitations.
According to him, the survey conducted by CeMI in March has shown that, compared to December 2017, the confidence in judiciary has fallen from 48% to 34%.
It is obvious that the percentage of people who think that the court proceeding are too lengthy has decreased, Vujovic says.
He thinks that it is a good thing that the percentage of those who think that the court proceedings take standard length of time has tripled-from 9% to 24%.
“Although political influence is considered to be the biggest problem in judiciary, the reduction from 41% to 34% is encouraging”.
According to him, 23% of citizens find the court fees to be a growing problem.
“The problem is that the judiciary does not enjoy the necessary level of confidence, therefore the negative comments can’t be ignored and institutional response is a necessity”, Vujovic says.
Supreme Court President, Vesna Medenica, says that all courts aim at strengthening the rule of law.
“I do believe that we are building a strong foundation for the progress of judicial system through cooperation of judicial institutions and civil society”, Medenica says.
She recalls that the right to a trial within a reasonable length of time is one of the fundamental ones in the European Court of Human Rights.
“That has been proved by the Analysis of the judgments of the European Court of human rights in respect to Montenegro. The analysys has been prepared over a 2 year period of time, by the Supreme Court in cooperation with the Office of the Representative of Montenegro Before the European Court of Human Rights.
The report, as she says, presents recommendations that are valuable not only to judges, but to all representatives of state bodies in charge of protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Medenica pointed to the Vice President of the European Court of Justice Robert Spano’s statement, in which he stressed the progress Montenegro has made in the field of human rights over the last five years.
“In order to maintain commendable rating, we need to continue to closely monitor European Court’s practice and the application of standards in regard to protection of the right to a trial within a reasonable time and other guaranteed rights,” Medenica says.
She said that CeMI, the monitoring team, also concluded that the way to a greater judicial efficiency was not a one-way road, but that it depended on other subjects involved in the court proceedings, as well.
“First of all, we’ll look into the shortcomings of the court system, because it is not, we all must agree, perfect,” Medenica says.
She stated that in order to improve the work of the court system, the remaining obstacles must be overcome.
“We have a backlog of court cases dating back over a decade. That is not only a stain on our profession, but also on our reformed, rejuvenated and strengthened system. Unfortunately, until the oldest cases are solved, we cannot say we are completely satisfied with our work”, Medenica says.
She said she expected court presidents to submit report on closed cases within a year.
“The crisis is over. Now, we have to focus on remaining cases”, Medenica says.
She praised the courts for what she said was achieved efficiency rate of over 100%, but stressed that the speed rate should be higher.
“Bringing backlog cases to a completion remains one of our top priorities throughout the integration process and it is under constant scrutiny of the public”, Medenica says.
She said that the presidents of the courts held a thematic meeting during which they concluded that a proactive approach should be taken in regard to procedures for determining the disciplinary responsibility and completion of backlog cases.
“We would see a great improvement in this area through real, not illusory, amendments to the Law on Judicial Council and Judges, which would lead to an improved balance sheet”, says Medenica.
She emphasized that, at this point, fair and efficient justice system was not an ideal, but a necessity.
Director General of the Directorate for Justice at the Ministry of Justice, Marijana Lakovic Draskovic, said that only an independent, professional and responsible judiciary could provide the support for the overall social and economic progress of the country.
“An efficient and fair justice system is certainly one of the top priorities of our Government and judiciary”, she says.
According to her, the Government has shown determination to improve the independence, impartiality, accountability and efficiency of the judiciary by adopting a new Judicial reform Strategy.
“The implementation of the strategic and operational objectives of this strategy represents a continuation of the judiciary reform process that has already had a positive effect”, says Lakovic Draskovic.
She recalled that two representatives of the civil sector participated in the development of the Action Plan for the implementation of the Strategy.
“That’s why I expect that we will continue to cooperate on projects the NGOs have successfully implemented in this area, thus far”, concludes Draskovic.