Montenegro Advised to Tighten Judiciary Appointments

The Advisory body of Council of Europe suggests that the most important judicial functions in Montenegro should be appointed by a two-third parliamentary majority.The Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters, the Venice Commission, has examined the draft opinion on draft amendments to the Constitutional provisions relating to the judiciary of Montenegro during its session on Friday.

Montenegro’s Parliamentary Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs adopted proposals for constitutional change in May. Their aim is to decrease the politicization of the judiciary and satisfy conditions set by the EU.

The proposed changes would allow the Judicial Council to elect its chairman and the chairman of the Supreme Court.

The amendments also envisage that the judges should elect the chairman of the Constitutional Court from their own ranks.

In addition, they follow the recommendations of the European Commission regarding the structure of the Judicial Council, which should be changed to consist primarily of judges and lawyers, instead of including members of parliament as is the case now.

The opposition did not vote for the draft amendments in May. One of the main reasons was because they allow for judges of Constitutional Court and Supreme State Prosecutor to be elected by the simple parliamentary majority.

The Socialist People’s Party, SNP, wanted the most important judicial functions to be appointed by a two third parliamentary majority.

The draft opinion of the Venice Commission also suggests that the Constitutional Court judges and the State Prosecutor should be elected by the two third parliamentary majority.

It also proposes that the Judicial Council should appoint the chairperson of the Supreme Court with the two-third majority.

However, some in Montenegro think that that the solutions proposed by the Venice Commission would not function in the Montenegrin context because the failure of the political parties to agree might result in the blockades of the candidates.

In the past, the Montenegrin parties had difficulties to reach qualified majority of votes when it was needed.

The most recent example is negotiations about the constitutional changes, which, in order to be adopted, requires a two third majority.

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