The Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) held a two-day Academy on the European Convention on Human Rights and Freedoms, on the topic of protection against discrimination against persons with disabilities in the practice of Montenegrin justice and the European Court of Human Rights. The aim of this Academy was to provide practical and theoretical knowledge on anti-discrimination legislation, protection against discrimination of persons with disabilities and enabling equality of persons with disabilities with other persons. The seminar was held on September 14 and 15, 2020 at the Bianca Hotel in Kolašin, and was attended by young staff in the judiciary – expert advisors, with a special emphasis on representatives of regular courts and state prosecutor’s offices.
Lecturers at the academy were Dr. Vesna Simović Zvicer, professor at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Montenegro and President of the Judicial Council, Milena Krsmanović, Advisor to the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro and Valentina Pavličić, Montenegro’s representative before the European Court of Human Rights.
In her introductory speech, the Director of CEDEM, Milena Bešić, emphasized the importance of respecting the rights of persons with disabilities through the elaboration of Montenegrin involvement in international legal flows. She stated that Montenegro is defined in the Constitution as “a civil, democratic, ecological state with social justice based on the rule of law”, and that Montenegro has ratified all key international treaties, agreements and conventions on human rights. Given their supremacy, they are guaranteed effective protection against discrimination in domestic law, Besic said, in practice, courts rarely invoke international law as a source of law on which to make their decisions.
During the first day, Dr. Vesna Simović Zvicer, using discourse analysis, explained to the participants the negative impact that used terms such as: disabled, handicapped, disabled, people with special needs have on people with disabilities, as well as the history of using these terms in international conventions . Simović Zvicer pointed out the need to include persons with disabilities in decision-making processes that are closely related to their needs. Through interactive work with the participants, she contributed to better acquainting young staff in the judiciary with the harmonization of Montenegrin legislation with the anti-discrimination standards of the EU and the Council of Europe.
During the second day of the Academy, Milena Krsmanović introduced the participants with an interactive lecture to the institution of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro, as well as the practice of the Montenegrin judiciary and the Ombudsman institution in protection against discrimination against persons with disabilities. In addition, she mentioned that there are numerous types of affirmative actions for the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and that they will exist until the set goal is achieved – equal opportunity to enjoy all legally prescribed rights.
Through her lecture aimed at approximating the practice of the European Court of Human Rights in the field of protection against discrimination against persons with disabilities, Valentina Pavličić advised participants that their engagement and application of new norms, standards and practices and their constant commitment can change society for the better. Montenegro has well-applied legal practice that is in line with world and European practice.
The Academy was held within the project “Multisectoral approach to the protection of the rights and fundamental freedoms of LSI”, which was supported by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights.