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Protection of freedom of religion in Montenegro

Written declaration No. 710 | Doc. 15075 | 04 February 2020

Mr Milan KNEŽEVIĆ, Montenegro, NR ; Mr Aleksandr BASHKIN, Russian Federation, NR ; Mr Constantinos EFSTATHIOU, Cyprus, SOC ; Mr Andrey EPISHIN, Russian Federation, NR ; Ms Dubravka FILIPOVSKI, Serbia, EPP/CD ; Mr Igor KAGRAMANYAN, Russian Federation, NR ; Mr Leonid KALASHNIKOV, Russian Federation, UEL ; Mr Sergey KISLYAK, Russian Federation, NR ; Ms Alfiia KOGOGINA, Russian Federation, NR ; Ms Elvira KOVÁCS, Serbia, EPP/CD ; Ms Snježana NOVAKOVIĆ BURSAĆ, Bosnia and Herzegovina, NR ; Mr Žarko OBRADOVIĆ, Serbia, SOC ; Mr Yury OLEINIKOV, Russian Federation, NR ; Mr Pieter OMTZIGT, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Mr Sergei PAKHOMOV, Russian Federation, NR ; Ms Biljana PANTIĆ PILJA, Serbia, EPP/CD ; Mr Bob van PAREREN, Netherlands, NR ; Ms Foteini PIPILI, Greece, EPP/CD ; Ms Irina RODNINA, Russian Federation, NR ; Mr Theodoros ROUSOPOULOS, Greece, EPP/CD ; Ms Irina RUKAVISHNIKOVA, Russian Federation, NR ; Mr Nikolai RYZHAK, Russian Federation, UEL ; Mr Aleksandar ŠEŠELJ, Serbia, NR ; Mr Leonid SLUTSKIY, Russian Federation, NR ; Mr Evripidis STYLIANIDIS, Greece, EPP/CD ; Mr Birgir THÓRARINSSON, Iceland, EPP/CD ; Mr Piotr TOLSTOY, Russian Federation, NR ; Ms Aleksandra TOMIĆ, Serbia, EPP/CD ; Mr Egidijus VAREIKIS, Lithuania, EPP/CD ; Ms Svetlana ZHUROVA, Russian Federation, NR

We, the undersigned, declare the following:

We express our deep concern following the adoption in Montenegro, on 27 December 2019, of a Law on Freedom of Religion or Beliefs and Legal Status of Religious Communities.

This law, adopted with no consultation of the religious communities and against the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the European Union External Action Service, contains serious violations of human rights.

It provides, inter alia, that:

  • most religious properties become the properties of the State (Article 62);
  • religious communities are precluded from founding primary schools (Article 54);
  • existing religious communities must apply for a new registration to obtain legal personality whereas they possess it already;
  • religious communities with a seat abroad, such as the majority church (the Serbian Orthodox Church), must have their seat in Montenegro in order to gain legal personality.

This law is provoking massive demonstrations and the contestation of many church leaders across Europe and the world.

We urge the authorities and the Constitutional Court of Montenegro to repeal the law and to restore a peaceful dialogue with religious communities in order to achieve a new law that would be fully respectful of international law and of Montenegro's international obligations.