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Podgorica, 13 November - Montenegro has achieved continuous progress in legislative reform and institution building, and has an initial track record in the fight against high-level corruption and organised crime, money laundering and temporary seizures of assets, but has only limited results in some other areas, the latest European Commission’s non-paper on the rule of law shows. The non-paper, which is part of the Commission’s six-monthly reporting on chapters 23 and 24 for Montenegro, was presented at a press conference held in Podgorica.
The EU Ambassador to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, said that the fight against organised crime is yielding better results than in the preceding years, partly due to strengthened police cooperation with EU member states, adding that Montenegrin police participated in a number of high-profile international police operations that led to the arrest of the members of crime groups and very substantial drugs seizures.
“The judicial reform process has yielded some results, such as the organisation of national competitions and regular assessments of prosecutors and judges, but challenges remain, particularly related to efficiency, rationalisation, implementation of the Information & Communication Technology strategy, and enforcement of disciplinary and ethical standards for judges and prosecutors,” said Orav.
He pointed out that concerns remain regarding the overall situation to do with media freedom.
“In the first half of 2018 four attacks on journalists were reported, the most serious one being the shooting of investigative journalist Olivera Lakić, the perpetrators of which remain unidentified. The lack of effective self-regulation mechanisms and professional and ethical standards for media still creates a climate where the freedom of expression can be abused. The editorial independence and professional standards of the public broadcaster need to be ensured, and its Council needs to be shielded from undue influence and political pressure,” said Orav.
He concluded that, in the coming period, it will be crucial for Montenegro to deliver convincing results, in particular in the areas of concern.
The negotiator for Chapters 23 and 24, Marijana Lakovic, said that the European Commission recognises all the activities undertaken by the Montenegrin institutions in order to improve the rule of law, and consequently to improve the quality of life and security of citizens.
“The results of the judicial reform process are recognised, not only when it comes to the high degree of application of standards in the legislative and institutional framework, but also the successful three-year implementation in practice carried out by the Ministry of Justice and judicial institutions,” Lakovic said.
She added that the establishment of direct cooperation with EUROJUST had contributed to the effective treatment of criminal cases with an international element and that the latest actions by the Police Directorate, resulting from good cooperation with EUROPOL, INTERPOL and EU member states, are also noted.
This is the sixth non-paper published since negotiations in these chapters were opened in December 2013.
The non-paper can be accessed at: http://www.eu.me/images/nonpaper_Council_doc_WK-13574-2018.doc.pdf