The Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) held a two-day seminar on “The Role of the Montenegrin Judiciary – Gender Equality and Legal Protection of Women Victims of Domestic Violence”, which aimed to raise awareness and increase the knowledge of judicial and prosecutorial advisers on the role of the judiciary in promoting gender equality as well as international and national standards in the field of legal protection of victims of gender-based violence.
The seminar was held on September 15 and 16, 2020 at the Bianca Hotel in Kolašin, and was attended by young staff in the judiciary, namely representatives of the judiciary and the state prosecutor’s office (expert associates and advisors with special emphasis on employees in the basic courts, the High Court, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and the Basic State Prosecutor’s Offices) from all over Montenegro, with a focus on municipalities in the north. Lecturers at the academy were prof. Dr. Vesna Ratković, professor at the Faculty of Law, University of the Mediterranean, Dina Knežević, advisor to the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro, Valentina Pavličić, representative of Montenegro before the European Court of Human Rights and Rade Ćetković, judge of the Basic Court in Podgorica.
In her introductory speech, CEDEM Director Milena Bešić noted that equality between women and men is an integral part of the human rights corpus, and is a key element in the reform process and implies equal participation of women and men, equal position, equal opportunities and equal benefits. results of work in all areas of private and public life. The negotiation process that Montenegro has started for full membership in the EU will lead to further progress in the application of European Union standards, especially in relation to the issue of gender equality. In this regard, Montenegro needs to take all necessary measures to promote women’s political, economic, social and other rights and achieve gender equality. Besic concludes that CEDEM, as a think-tank organization, whose field of activity is gender equality, is showing constant efforts as well as support in encouraging the harmonization of the Montenegrin legislative framework with the European legal framework.
Within the first day, prof. Dr. Vesna Ratković introduced the participants to international documents at the international and regional level, as well as the impact of these documents on the protection of women’s rights and the elimination of discrimination against women. She explained that the goal of international documents is the adoption of agreed principles and rules that national legislation should introduce uniformly into their systems, as well as to ensure efficient and effective implementation. In addition, Ratković informed the participants about the provisions and significance of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as well as the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention). Ratković also referred in particular to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and one of the concluding observations contained in the second periodical report for Montenegro, in which the Committee recommends that the member state improve capacity building programs for judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and lawyers, to enable them to directly apply or invoke its provisions in judicial or administrative proceedings and to interpret domestic law accordingly. She concluded that the CEDEM seminar actively contributed to increasing the knowledge of staff in the judiciary on gender equality and international and national standards in the field of legal protection of victims of gender-based violence.
On the second day of the seminar, during the first session, Dina Knezevic introduced the participants to the Ombudsman institution, its history and its legal provisions in the Montenegrin framework. In addition, she explained the organizational unit of the ombudsman institution as well as the purpose and manner of operation of each of the four organizational units within that institution. Ombudsman institutions for protection against discrimination against women. She added that discrimination can be unequal treatment of equals and equal treatment of inequalities.
During the second session, Valentina Pavlicic explained the development of institutions and laws related to protection against discrimination against women in Montenegro, as well as cases that took place before the Montenegrin judiciary and related to domestic and gender-based violence. In addition, she instructed the participants on the practice of the European Court of Human Rights in the field of domestic and gender-based violence, which had an impact on the harmonization of Montenegrin judicial practice with European practice.
The third session was held by Rade Ćetković, who started the lecture by emphasizing that gender-based violence is a problem that is very present, that we all need to talk about it and that the most important thing is to actively participate in solving it. After that, he received feedback from the participants about their opinion on the state of Montenegrin society in terms of the advantage of the male sex over the female sex. Participants expressed different opinions, where one part of the participants confirmed the dominance of the male population in all spheres, while the other part of the participants expressed the opposite opinion, expressing the view that women and men are equal in the family and at work. In addition, Ćetković prepared three cases that were before the Montenegrin judiciary in the area of gender-based violence. Participants were divided into three groups, where each group had the task of declaring one case. In this way, the participants gained practical knowledge, analyzing the decisions and judgments of courts and state prosecutor’s offices in the field of protection of the rights of victims of gender-based violence. During the lecture, Aaron Camp’s short film “Caged In” was shown, the theme of which is in line with the theme of the seminar – gender equality and legal protection of women victims of domestic violence. With this film, Ćetković showed the participants in an interactive way the importance of the fight against domestic and gender-based violence.