Strengthening Judicial Independence: Key Challenge in Meeting European Standards

By , 08 Oct 2019, 02:12 AM Politics
Strengthening Judicial Independence: Key Challenge in Meeting European Standards Copyrights: Government of Montenegro

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08 October 2019 - The legal and institutional framework, which guarantees the independence of the judicial branch of Government in Montenegro, implies a high degree of responsibility for each judicial office holder individually. Citizens' expectation that prosecutors and judges should firmly protect the legal order of Montenegro is justified, and this is the only way to build trust in the judicial and prosecutorial organisation. Unless the responsibility of the judiciary is significantly strengthened, the citizens' concern for the overall success of the reforms will be justified. Therefore, the judiciary is obliged to respond to such challenges in a timely and efficient manner, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Montenegro Zoran Pažin said at a Western Balkans Justice Ministers conference which was recently held in Tirana, Albania.

During the conference, organised by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Albania and the Regional Cooperation Council, the Ministers of Justice, senior officials and experts in the field of the rule of law from the Western Balkans discussed the key challenges in meeting European standards, improving the rule of law and strengthening regional judicial cooperation.

DPM Pažin emphasised that the high degree of independence enjoyed by the judiciary in the Montenegrin government system carries a special responsibility for the impartial and independent performance of each prosecutor and judge individually. Only in this way can confidence in the justice system be built.

He recalled that the implementation of the previous judicial reform strategy, through the adoption of amendments to the Constitution and the improvement of legislation, significantly strengthened the independence of the Montenegrin judiciary. Pažin stressed that continued judicial reform remains Montenegro's priority in the European integration process, which the Government also confirmed by adopting the Strategy for the next three-year period.

"Increasing the efficiency of the judicial system will improve the quality of respect for human rights and the rule of law, while enhancing the accessibility and transparency of judicial institutions in the coming period should result in an adequate degree of citizens' confidence in the judiciary," Deputy Prime Minister Pažin noted.

The second, expert panel dedicated to the design, implementation and monitoring of judicial reform in the Region was addressed by Nikola B. Šaranović, Director General of the Directorate for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Justice. He recalled that in its conclusions on enlargement, stabilisation, and association, the EU Council noted that the institutional framework in Montenegro was complete and that the legal framework was largely established, and that it was crucial for the entire rule of law system to produce tangible and sustainable results.

Šaranović notably presented cooperation on European projects in the process of meeting the provisional benchmarks in Chapters 23 and 24, judicial cooperation with the countries of the Region, as well as the participation of Montenegrin institutions in the work of European judicial networks. He also reminded that Montenegro is the first candidate country to which the new approach in negotiations has been applied and that our country is ready to transfer the first-hand experience to other candidate countries from the Western Balkans.

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