Human Rights


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Everyone is entitled to all rights and freedoms, without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

CEDEM has been conducting activities in this area since its establishment in 1999, organizing many training seminars and workshops in order to strengthen protection for human rights in Montenegro. Its training programs are designed for different society actors, such as civil servants, civil society activists, students, etc. CEDEM made the first draft of the Anti-discrimination Law in 2005, which was followed by many educational programs in this area. 




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Respect for basic human rights and the protection of national minorities are fundamental factors in the stability and socio-economic development of any state. The principle of respect for uniqueness within unity and unity within diversity is defined at the level of the European Union as a clear integration condition, which manifests the degree of protection of minority rights and preservation of their identity, and thus the degree of democracy in a country.
According to the Constitution, Montenegro is a civic, ecological state of social justice, inhabited by different ethnic groups characterized by their identity, culture, religion and artistic heritage. Despite the differences between these ethnic groups and the fact that no ethnic group makes up the majority of the population, Montenegro has developed a model of coexistence based on general interethnic tolerance and constitutional guarantees for the protection of minority rights.
However, such ethnic heterogeneity, along with differences in religion, gender, politics and other, carries a certain risk of conflict and affects the existence of discriminatory attitudes and practices that may disavow the application of adopted legal standards and jeopardize political and social consensus on essential issues of democratic country development. Therefore, continuous monitoring of the phenomenon of discrimination and perception of the degree of discrimination on various grounds, as well as monitoring the implementation of regulations and assessing their impact on the creation of an equal society are an integral part of minority policy.
With this in mind, CEDEM regularly conducts research that seeks to point out certain changes in the political, legal and social field, but also persistent challenges and shortcomings that affect the protection of the rights of minority peoples and minority national communities. The research conducted by CEDEM within the said project included the following segments: a) analysis of the domestic legal framework for the protection of the rights of minority peoples and minority national communities, with reference to international legal documents and comparative practice; b) secondary data analysis through which new hypotheses are set based on the same data sets; and c) a meta-analysis that combined and synthesized different mutually independent studies, integrating their results into a common, unique result. Methodological objectives and instruments have been set to provide an adequate volume of data in relevant areas to make the research epistemologically valid.
Relevant indicators used for the research show that the position of minority peoples and communities has improved (both in terms of quantitative indicators and in relation to the implementation of measures of competent institutions), but that there are still legal shortcomings related to the implementation of multiethnicity policy. and multiculturalism, as well as problems in exercising constitutionally guaranteed rights. This primarily refers to the absence of legal solutions that elaborate the application of affirmative action measures, especially in the field of political representation of the Roma community, as one of the smallest, but socially and economically most vulnerable minority communities in Montenegro.
Namely, in the normative-political sense, Montenegro is undertaking efforts in terms of establishing a normative-legal framework for the protection of minority rights and the implementation of the policy of multiculturalism. The relevant legal framework consists of international agreements, the Constitution guaranteeing the protection of the rights and freedoms of minority peoples and other minority national communities and a set of legal regulations in certain areas: health, education, social and child protection, housing.
The Constitution also contains a provision on supremacy and direct application of international legal norms in relation to domestic legislation. It should be noted that there are numerous provisions in international documents that refer to minorities, but not generally accepted international standards, nor universal rules according to which the rights of minorities are clearly regulated, except for the prohibition of discrimination and the generally formulated right to preserve ethnic and religious identity. When it comes to the protection of minority rights within the EU, the norms related to this area of ​​human rights do not have their direct basis in EU legislation, which sets certain limits in assessing the degree of realization of these rights, especially in countries aspiring to EU membership.
Although the analysis did not reveal major legal shortcomings, ie collisions with international standards, but more needs for certain constitutional - legal concepts and guarantees to be operationalized and concretized through appropriate legal norms, field research indicated the need for more efficient application of minority policies in practice. The reasons for this are multiple: vagueness / indeterminacy of formulations of certain legal standards, socio-cultural environment in which minority policy is implemented, but also the influence of economic factors, and the effect of individual characteristics of citizens on ethnic distancing.

The statistics that provide data at the municipal level, which were also analyzed during the survey, provided an additional look at the factors influencing ethnic distance. For this purpose, the so-called intraclass correlation coefficient which showed that municipalities, as specific environments, have a strong effect on ethnic distancing. To obtain valid data, each indicator was controlled via key demographic variables, using hierarchical linear modeling. According to the obtained data, the municipalities that are characterized by the highest degree of ethnic distancing are Plav, Savnik, Andrijevica and Berane.
This effect is most pronounced when it comes to ethnic distancing from those who declare themselves as Serbs, more precisely, almost 25% of distancing in relation to this ethnic group depends on the municipality in which people live, and not on their personal characteristics. A high percentage in this regard was also recorded when it comes to Montenegrins, while in relation to Albanians and Roma, it was determined that no municipal characteristics affect the degree of ethnic distancing towards members of these minority communities. When it comes to ethnic distancing from Croats, it was concluded that the increase in cultural capital in the municipality can, as expected, lead to a decrease in ethnic distance towards members of this community. Indicatively, the increase in the economically active population in the municipalities reduces the ethnic distance towards Montenegrins and Serbs, but increases it in relation to Bosniaks and Muslims.
In the second part of the research, a qualitative analysis of the content of 54 published documents on national minorities and issues of discrimination was conducted. The total extension of this material included over 1200 pages of various formats, from which 20 focused codes were obtained by applying the open coding procedure.
Most of the narratives concerning minority rights are, in fact, the protection of minorities. In the narrative itself about the protection of the rights of minorities, the rights that minorities have are most often spoken of in general, and conventions that need to be insisted on in order to respect those rights.
The analysis of available reports and materials indicated normative shifts in terms of protection against discrimination, but also from the point of view of the application of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Namely, the Advisory Board noted the general progress in the legislative and institutionalized sense, as well as in terms of collecting data on persons with unresolved civil status and strengthening the system of financial support to minority councils and communities. The practice of using the language and script, as well as the education of members of minorities in their script, was assessed as correct.
Also, the efforts of Montenegro aimed at strengthening intercultural relations and social cohesion were noted. According to the relevant institutions, there is a good legal framework, including the institution of the Ombudsman, as well as legislation that prohibits and sanctions discrimination on various grounds. Funding for cultural projects and consultative mechanisms of minority communities (together with various state sources of funding open to national minorities) has been raised to a higher level compared to the previous period.
One of the most common codes is the one related to Roma and Egyptians and which includes a large number of contents related to the Strategy for Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro and other strategic approaches and documents aimed at improving the position of members of the Roma and Egyptian communities. These findings are in line with the results of the legal analysis and indicate the need to create normative conditions for the political representation of Roma.
Based on the results of all three research segments, two priority areas for action have been defined. The first area includes employment (citizens clearly indicate that discrimination is very present in this area), ie adequate representation of members of minority peoples and minority national communities in the public sector, but also in other sectors. The second priority, ie a problem that requires urgent solution, is the problem of discrimination against political dissidents, which is present in Montenegrin society, as well as the possibility of facilitating the representation of all ethnic communities in bodies that make the most important political decisions. in Parliament). This requires certain applications at the normative level, primarily through appropriate changes and adjustments to the Law on the Election of Councilors and Deputies.
In addition, it is necessary to work on strengthening the underdeveloped political and general habitus of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro, which is conditioned by an underdeveloped political organization, which prevents this community from articulating and effectively representing its rights, nor from exerting appropriate pressure on functionally functioning institutions in charge of protecting their rights. In that sense, enviable progress has been made in recent years in the formation and operation of various NGOs that bring together members of the Roma and Egyptian communities and actively advocate for the protection of their rights, but these organizations still lack adequate visibility and support of Montenegrin society and state, neither materially nor professionally.

A significant shortcoming is the fact that the Strategy for Social Inclusion of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro 2016-2020, adopted in March 2016, does not prioritize the political representation of this community and the inclusion of its members in public affairs (res publica). On the other hand, NRIS, as a strategic framework of the EU until 2020, recommends that the social inclusion of Roma and Egyptians include, among other things, the active participation of the Roma and Egyptian communities in the public life of countries.
In the end, we conclude that for the full affirmation of the rights of minorities, a systemic approach is necessary that will enable more efficient realization and protection of the rights of minority peoples and minority national communities, and which goes beyond the normative efforts undertaken by the state. It is especially important that local governments take greater responsibility for the implementation of local public policies, and that they promote a democratic culture and develop a proactive approach to multiethnic governance.

The publication is available at this link  and was published as part of the project "Strengthening the system for a society of equal rights", which is supported by the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights.

e peticije2

With the financial support of the Ministry of Public Administration, CEDEM is implementing the project "e-Democracy: Civic participation in the digital era". This project implements activities aimed at encouraging citizens to participate in the decision-making process using modern tools.

Every adult citizen of Montenegro or foreigner with permanent residence in our country can submit or vote for an electronic petition related to one of the areas of work of the Government of Montenegro. Any petition that receives at least 3,000 citizens' support within 60 days will be turned over to a formal initiative by the competent ministry and submitted to the Government for consideration.

The aim of the Voice of Citizens - ePetition is to enable citizens, in a simple way, to assist the Government in its constructive initiatives in its commitment to exercise constitutional competencies to the best and best interests of all citizens of Montenegro.

For more details, see the animation video of the e-petition by clicking the following link:



The activities carried out within the project: “Support to the efficient management of the criminal sanctions mechanism in Montenegro” will contribute to the ethical responsibility of prison officers in accordance with European standards and good practices.

This was announced at a press conference on the completion of the project: "Support to the Effective Management of the Criminal Sanctions Mechanism in Montenegro", organized by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights - CEDEM, supported by the Ministry of Justice - Bureau of Criminal Sanctions (ZIKS).

CEDEM's director Milena Bešić said the project aimed to support the implementation of criminal sanctions laws and action plans, in line with international standards, through improving the framework for implementing relevant standards for the protection of prisoners' rights and detainees, improving the framework for the ethical responsibility of prison officers in accordance with European standards and good practices.

"Within this project, we have had several activities that we have implemented in previous months. Two-day training sessions were held for members of the training team on the prevention of torture and discrimination against prisoners. The training was attended by three deputy ombudsmen and nine independent advisers", Bešić said.

She said that two days of training for prison officers and parole officers on the application of ethical standards were held as part of the project, attended by 11 representatives of the Directorate of the Bureau of Criminal Sanctions and five representatives of the Ministry of Justice.

Bešić said that three publications were also published within the project.

General director of the Directorate for Execution of Criminal Sanctions of the Ministry of Justice, Nataša Radonjić, said that the project was an opportunity to work together and cooperate to achieve common goals, stating that this project was the right example of successful implementation of legislative innovations in the area of enforcement of criminal sanctions.

"We have a new value for cooperation, because by working together we have come to a common goal and understanding. This project had a significant area - strengthening the integrity of ZIKS officers and officers of the Ministry of Justice's Conditional Liberty Directorate working to enforce alternative sanctions, in terms of promoting and applying ethical standards", Radonjić said.

The Chief Structural Service in the Supreme State Prosecutor's Office (VDT) and social worker, Dijana Popović Gavranović, spoke about the application of an alternative sanction to minors, explaining that the delinquent behavior of that population bears the mark of social status and characteristic personalities in development.

"This is why juvenile proceedings are different from proceedings and criminal acts against adults. According to adult offenders, they are focused on punishment, and in the case of minors, on measures of upbringing, social assistance and protection without the use of repressive elements", "Gavranović Popović underlined.

According to her, the aim of the measures against minors is to eliminate all that impedes their development and directs them to delinquent behavior.

"Often, it is not understood regarding juvenile offenders when they come to criminal proceedings that they are still children in development, that they are vulnerable, that they are not mature enough and that they just look to us as adults", Gavranović said.



(Detail from the final conference that was held in PR center)


People with disabilities (PWDs) in Montenegro are in a very difficult socio-economic situation. They are exposed to discrimination and there is a need to monitor the effectiveness of measures aimed at their social inclusion.

This was announced at the final conference of the project: “Empowerment of Professional Capacities to Combat Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities”, conducted by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights- CEDEM, in partnership with the NGO Ekvista, funded by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights.

CEDEM's director, Milena Bešić, said there were still serious shortcomings when it cames to implementing legal solutions, as well as measures defined in the Strategies and Action Plans.

"There are no comprehensive quantitative and qualitative data relating to persons with disabilities. In this way, it is almost impossible to monitor the effectiveness of measures and activities aimed at the social inclusion of persons with disabilities and their protection, ”Bešić said.

According to CEDEM's research, she said that PWDs in Montenegro are in a very difficult socio-economic situation and are one of the groups most exposed to discrimination.

"The prohibition of discrimination and the principle of equality are considered to be so fundamental to the protection of human rights that they are incorporated into all key international human rights instruments.
However, PWDs face discrimination on a daily basis, and despite good legal solutions in practice, access to all public facilities and institutions that they are referred to in daily life is still not adequately provided, ”Bešić said.

She pointed out that in the area of employment, employers would rather pay the prescribed amounts of money to the Fund for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment of PWDs than to hire persons with disabilities.

CEDEM's program manager Ognjen Marković, presenting the survey "Position of persons with disabilities in Montenegro: identification of practices and patterns of discrimination", conducted in March this year by the method of group interviews, said that the respondents agreed that it was necessary to raise awareness and the responsibilities of not only the institutions of the system but also of all other actors who directly or indirectly participate in the implementation of the laws and policies in order to boost effective implementation of the adopted laws.

"There are very few cases of discrimination, which doesn't mean that there is no discrimination, but that citizens do not know their rights enough and are not always able to recognize discrimination or to be afraid to report it. That is why it's necessary to inform and educate the population, "Marković pointed out.

When asked how the Ombudsman institution, as a sui generis institution, acts in the field of protection of human rights and freedoms of PWDs, all interlocutors, both from state institutions, non-governmental organizations and LSI themselves, noted a high level of respect the contribution that the Ombudsman institution provides in this field.

"On the other hand, one of the leading objections to the work of the institution is reflected in the low visibility of its activities Marković said.

When asked about the media's coverage of the rights of PWDs, he said, he noted the negative attitude of almost all interviewees.

"Participants overwhelmingly think that this issue is sufficiently represented in the media, however, they see the problem in the way they report it, in a sensationalist approach that characterizes the "path from mercy to heroism". Often the impression is that the media reports on PWDs only when they need to fill their media space", Marković said.

He said that members of the NGO sector, as well as all institutions dealing with the rights of PWDs, noticed that, both and parents and carers of persons with disabilities were insufficiently informed.

"Therefore, parents are insufficiently informed, do not know their rights, nor the rights of their children, and what steps they have to take to exercise their rights, and often the parents themselves do not want to present the problem to the public.
On the other hand, referral syndrome often occurs with persons who are informed about their rights, but they are unwilling to do anything since bureaucratization of the system.

Presenting the results of the project, he said that two publications were published within the project: "Prohibition of Discrimination and Exercise of Employment Rights: Achievements, Problems and Recommendations" and "Guide to Legal and Institutional Protection Against Discrimination against LSI".

Also, a media campaign was conducted and three seminars on European anti-discrimination law and national substantive procedural law were held for representatives of the judiciary, NGOs, inspection services and the Secretariat for Social and Legal Normative Activities of the municipalities from the northern part of Montenegro.

Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro, Siniša Bjeković, said PWDs are high on the list of those at risk of discrimination.

He stated that there are another number of vulnerable groups within the PWDs population, such as women and children with disabilities. The key state commitment, he said, is to implement positive obligations and create all conditions for PWDs to be equal to all other members of society.

A professor at the Law and Faculty of Political Science of the University of Montenegro and a member of the Judicial Council, Vesna Simović-Zvicer, emphasized that employment is crucial for the social integration of persons with disabilities.

"One of the basic principles underlying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is that we are all born equal in rights and dignity. And that equality should be ensured for persons who for some reason were discriminated against in the previous period", said Simović-Zvicer.

She said that in the previous period, there were numerous measures taken by the state in relation to persons with disabilities, aimed at encouraging them to participate in educational programs, especially in higher education institutions.

Zvicer said that in the previous period it was present that the funds paid by employers to the Professional Rehabilitation Fund were not in all cases spent as they should have been spent.

"We had a terribly bad situation in practice. We had e.g. the situation that an employer who employs a PWDs can use the funds for job adjustment from the Professional Rehabilitation Fund. However, he had no restrictions on the length of the employment contract. He could hire a PWD for a month and he would receive these funds. Later, no one controlled him for whether he had intentionally used those funds. And then the question is whether we have fulfilled what was the goal", Simović-Zvicer said.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Valon Dasharami, said that once again the successful cooperation that the ministry has achieved with the non-governmental sector is confirmed, adding that the level of discrimination of PWDs in the society is regularly monitored through the research of NGOs and based on PWDs protection policy.

“In the last two years, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights has published five open calls for proposals to support the NGO sector. Last year, we allocated one million and 13 thousand euros, while this year we distributed one million and 513 thousand euros. In terms of PWDs, last year we supported a total of 21 projects worth 440 thousand euros, while this year we supported a total of 25 projects in the amount of 491 thousand euros, said Dasharami.





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