Necessary to harmonize the legal norms of various laws in the field of use and public display of national symbols

Necessary to harmonize the legal norms of various laws in the field of use and public display of national symbols

Podgorica, PR press service – The Law on Selection, Use and Public Display of National Symbols is already ripe for changes even though it has yet to come to life in practice, and in order to legally qualify some events, it is necessary to know clearly which are the national symbols of all minority peoples and other minority national communities.

This was announced at the conference “Results and Challenges of Implementation: Law on the Selection, Use and Public Display of National Symbols“, organized by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM), within the project “Promoting Full Equality“, supported by the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights.

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The state prosecutor in the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Podgorica, Vukas Radonjić, explained that the criminal protection of minority peoples and minority national communities and their national symbols is the last legal protection that the state should provide.

“This is the strictest type of protection, but certainly in our situation where, lately, the reputation of state symbols and symbols of minority peoples has been severely damaged, criminal protection should really be reached for in order to send a clear message that Montenegro is a state that will ensure the equality of all its citizens,” said Radonjić.

He explained that the most important thing is to determine all the circumstances of an event and to consider all the legal acts that possibly regulate it.

“Once we determine the factual situation, we must bring this event under the appropriate legal norm. Whether it is a criminal law or a misdemeanor law norm, or whether it is a misdemeanor law norm of which particular law, that is up to us practitioners to determine. Here I refer not only to the state prosecutors, judges of misdemeanor or criminal courts, but also the police, and even the inspection bodies,” said Radonjić.

He noted that Article 199 of the Criminal Code stipulates that a criminal sanction will be imposed on anyone who publicly exposes a nation, national minority or another minority ethnic community living in Montenegro to mockery.

The case law of the criminal courts in Montenegro has shown that the act of damaging or destroying of national symbols was also considered public exposure to mockery. “This action is also envisaged as a misdemeanor under the Law on Public Order and Peace, so there may be certain legal dilemmas here, “said Radonjić, adding that it is necessary to compare these two norms – the misdemeanor from the Law on Public Order and Peace and the criminal act from the Criminal Code.

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The Head of the Directorate for National and Ethnic Minorities in the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, Mirela Ramčilović El Deeb, said that the possible conflict between the The Law on Selection, Use and Public Display of National Symbols and the Law on Public Order and Peace was not noticed, and that there were no objections to it.

“No law can be implemented by just one institution. We have good laws, but implementation is something that can always be better. We are really trying to improve the application in accordance with our competencies. My opinion is that nothing is good enough that it cannot be better “, said Ramčilović El Deeb.

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Communal Inspector in the Communal Inspection Department of the Capital, Marina Aleksić, said that, regarding the application of the The Law on Selection, Use and Public Display of National Symbols, no written initiative related to violation of the Law was recorded through the electronic records of the Communal Inspection of the Capital.

“One colleague had a telephone initiative, which referred to the use of the flag in front of the cultural facility. As for ex officio controls, which relate to this area, more knowledge is required as to which minority people formed the council, which are the determined holidays, and so on. As for the intertwining of the competencies of the Communal Police, the Communal Inspection or the Police Administration, sometimes the objects of supervision get mixed up,” said Aleksić.

She said that based on the The Law on Selection, Use and Public Display of National Symbols, the Communal Inspection did not submit any request for initiating misdemeanor proceedings, nor did it issue a misdemeanor order.

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Director of CEDEM, Milena Bešić, reminded that the Law on the Selection, Use and Public Display of National Symbols was adopted two years ago and that Montenegro is considered an example of a state of multiethnic harmony, but that a number of factors contributed to the increasing of risk of discord among different ethnic communities.

“There was a need to adopt a new legal solution that clearly regulates the issue of selection, use and display of national symbols.” After almost two years, it is necessary to analyze its implementation and how this legal solution can be improved in relation to the identified problems in practice, especially from the aspect of penal provisions and overlapping competencies when we talk about this issue through different legal solutions,” said Bešić.


The Judge of the High Court for Misdemeanors of Montenegro, Maja Živaljević, said that the Law on the Selection, Use and Public Display of National Symbols is already ripe for amendments, even though it has yet to come to life in practice.

“Article 7 states that the flag may be displayed during political, scientific, cultural, artistic and sports gatherings organized by councils, associations, political parties and individuals. So, the flag can be flown wherever you want by both a legal entity and a natural person. This is a substantive provision, but we do not have a penal provision in case of an act that is to the contrary. That is the shortcoming and the problem of this Law,” said Živaljević.

The representative of the Democratic Party of Socialists, Leon Đokaj, said that out of six national councils of minority peoples, three used their legal right to determine their national symbols and their national holiday.

“Three other councils did not do it, but no one has a mechanism to force national councils to do it and, of course, they should not be forced. They have to decide for themselves whether they want it or not. We were absolutely extremely liberal there, we didn’t even set a deadline in the final provisions in which period they have to set it,” said Đokaj.

He assessed that the Law brings national symbols of members of minority peoples to almost the same level as state ones.

“This is best illustrated by the fact that the established national symbols of members of minority peoples and other minority national communities are kept where state symbols are kept, in the Parliament of Montenegro,” Đokaj pointed out.

The President of the Council of the Muslim People of Montenegro, Sabrija Vulić, said that Montenegro has good laws, but that the realization of what is outlined in them is questionable.

“We have a big problem that we have to deal with much more seriously. In our society, the ethnic distance is so strong that it hurts. We, first of all, have to work with young people. I think that the process of education is very important “, Vulić pointed out.

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The representative of the Bosniak Council in Montenegro, Bejto Šahmanović, said that a third of Montenegrin citizens are minorities and that the absence of minority political parties in the executive means that minorities are excluded from the process of making major decisions at the state level.

“If you asked the representatives of the new ruling coalition, they would say – well, you were offered and you refused. However, it was a purely declarative call and it meant – we offer you, but we pray to God that you refuse. The government itself functions in such a way that they want minorities that are theirs,” said Šahmanović.

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The President of the Croatian National Council of Montenegro, Zvonimir Deković, stated that out of 205 appointed officials in the mandate of the new Government, only seven are lower-ranking officials from the ranks of minority peoples.

“These are the indicators. The numbers, unlike the declarative performances, are exact and we take them as a value in relation to national minorities. Montenegro is our country, we live here. We want a civil state. I got my Croatianness by birth. I honestly experience Montenegro as my homeland, but it would not be fair to forget what I got by birth, “said Deković.

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