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Montenegro: effective fight against corruption is an essential step to secure the rule of law

On their return from Podgorica and Budva, Kimmo Sasi (Finland, EPP/CD) and Terry Leyden (Ireland, ALDE), co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Montenegro by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), stressed that effective implementation of anti-corruption laws is essential to secure the rule of law.

“We welcome the progress made by Montenegro in many areas and the continued determination of Montenegro to meet Council of Europe and EU standards. We take good note of the on-going steps taken by the authorities to further comply with the recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and their plans to further improve the legal framework. However, concrete results need to be seen to deter corruption, which remains widespread and deeply-rooted in society. We thus regret that the new Supreme State Prosecutor could not yet be elected by the parliament. The new appointment procedure derives from the constitutional changes of July 2013 which are in line with the Venice Commission recommendations. It aims at de-politicising the prosecution office. We now call on all parliamentarians to face the responsibility they have to appoint, through a transparent procedure, a broadly consensual and competent State Prosecutor. That process would strengthen the position of the prosecution office and further pave the way for diligent investigation and prosecution.”

Mr Sasi and Mr Leyden also emphasised that the fight against corruption requires that journalists feel free and secure when carrying out their work. “We are concerned about repeated attacks against journalists or media property that remain unsolved. In a democratic society it is inacceptable that journalists, in particular investigative journalists, remain subject to direct or indirect threats. We therefore welcomed the setting-up, in December 2013, of a Commission for investigation of assassinations and threats against journalists. This Commission should hopefully shed light on unsolved murders and attacks - in particular the assassination of Dusko Jovanovic, editor-in-chief of the daily Dan, in 2004 – and generally restore the confidence and trust of society in their institutions.” The co-rapporteurs added: “In this highly polarised media scene, it is the duty of the authorities to create a media-friendly environment and a shared responsibility of the authorities and journalists to further improve ethical journalism and self-regulation.”

In its 2012 Resolution, the Assembly identified the fight against corruption and the situation of the media as two of the key issues on which Montenegro has to make progress to fulfill its obligations.