Emanuelis Zingeris (Lithuania, EPP/DC) and Damien Cottier (Switzerland, ALDE), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Montenegro, issued the following statement today:
“On 27 May, the Parliament of Montenegro adopted the amendments to the law on the State Prosecution Service for a second time, after President Đukanović had asked for a new vote on the law. On 4 June, President Đukanović signed the adopted law. As co-rapporteurs, we have already made our position clear. We have commended the genuine improvements observed throughout the whole legislative process. We have noted the re-launch of inclusive consultations, after a hasty start. In its Resolution 2374 (2021), the Assembly has welcomed the decision to request the opinion of the Venice Commission on the amendments on two occasions, and the decision by the President of the Parliament to suspend the discussion, in order for the Parliament to be able to take the recommendations of the Venice Commission into consideration.
Overall, we have commended the efforts made by the Montenegrin authorities to implement several of the recommendations by the Venice Commission, notably the relinquishment to the parts related to the Special Prosecutor’s Office, but also the introduction of a lay member onto the Prosecutorial Council that will be selected by NGOs. We have noted that the attempts to improve the draft law have been constant and have also taken place, during the parliamentary debate, through amendments. That has showed both the efforts by the ruling majority to comply with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the extent of the dialogue between the Council of Europe and the Montenegrin authorities.
At the same time, we have drawn the attention of our colleagues in the parliament to the incomplete work on the composition of the Prosecutorial Council, despite all these genuine improvements. As the Venice Commission has said, the renewal of the members of the Prosecutorial Council members together and the appointment of new lay members by a simple majority in parliament, poses a risk to the Council's independence. Before the second vote took place in the parliament, we discussed this issue once again with our Montenegrin counterparts. We have heard that some consider the foreseen composition of the Council as more independent and less politicised than the current one.
We therefore urge them to demonstrate that the new lay members will be appointed on the basis of their competence and will be perceived as politically neutral. We also call on them not to forget the importance of fulfilling the recommendations of the Venice Commission, with regard to the issue of the composition of the Prosecutorial Council, in the medium term.”