PODGORICA, 10 December 2012
“No doubt Montenegro has significantly advanced in the area of human rights, but there is also a lot of work ahead”, participants voiced at the gathering on the occasion of marking the 2012 Human Rights Day. A high level debate on specific human rights aspects was organised by the Montenegrin Government, Ombudsperson, UN System in the country, OSCE Mission, NGO Civic Alliance and the University of Montenegro which hosted the event.
A wide range of representatives of the Government, state institutions, diplomatic community, civil society and academia took part in the event focusing on three topics: 1) recent membership of Montenegro at the United Nations Human Rights Council; 2) property restitution; and 3) human rights protection within the penitentiary system.
Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro Mitja Drobnič pointed out that the country improved legal framework for civil and political rights, but he also stressed that Montenegro cannot stop there. "It is necessary to improve living conditions in prisons, it is necessary to investigate and prosecute old cases of violence against journalists, and domestic violence is still a major problem", said Drobnič and urged the authorities to continuously monitor the state of human rights in Montenegro.
Minister of Human and Minority Rights Suad Numanović underlined that all individuals are born free and with equal dignity and rights, because human rights are universal and do not depend on national, ideological, social and cultural background. "Montenegro is recognized as a state of multinational and multi-ethnic harmony. To sustain such an environment, we are fully committed to protect minority rights in our country," said Numanović.
“Montenegro’s milestone achievement of joining the UN Human Rights Council, with majority support at the UN General Assembly, is a clear recognition of Montenegro's deep commitment to achieve full protection of human rights, as well as the acknowledgment of significant progress which the country achieved in this area”, said Rastislav Vrbensky, UN Resident Coordinator in Montenegro and quoted UN Secretary General who stated that “even in societies with a good track record, there is room for improvement.”
Main debate, dedicated to recent accession of Montenegro to the UN Human Rights Council, saw fruitful discussion prompted by eminent speakers, including Slovenian ambassador Andrej Logar who shared concrete examples and recommendations from their three-year experience of membership in the Council. “Membership in the Human Rights Council is a national project, not governmental”, he stressed. Importance and complexity of the Universal Periodic Review, was also discussed at the session. Montenegrin experience in the process of application for the membership in the Human Rights Council was presented by the host of the panel - Zoran Janković, Director General of the Directorate for Multilateral Affairs in Montenegrin Government.
Second panel, dedicated to the issue of property restitution, was hosted by the Ombudsperson, while the third panel debate, hosted by the Ministry of Justice, encompassed various aspects of human rights within the penitentiary system.