Successful accomplishment of another Legal Clinic programme

On the eve of World Refugee Day, thirty two enthusiastic students in the postgraduate specialist programme “Legal Clinic” at the Faculty of Law, University of Montenegro were presented with certificates for their completion of a one-semester course aimed at improving student’s knowledge of the legal aspects of the international refugee protection. The course, organised jointly by the Faculty of Law and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees –UNHCR, has been a part of regular postgraduate curriculum since 2004. The course was structured as a series of lectures delivered by UNHCR’s legal staff that familiarize students with the core mandate of UNHCR.

Brita Helleland, UNHCR Representative in Montenegro explained that the course familiarizes students with “global legal standards and international refugee protection.”   She also emphasized the importance of such a programme for the future integration prospects of refugees in Montenegro. “The programme aims at empowering future legal practitioners in Montenegro to effectively contribute to developing an asylum system in line with international standards and to ensure access to rights for those who seek refuge in Montenegro,” said Helelland.

Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Law, Ivana Jelic, who runs the Legal Clinic, praised the programme for the many benefits it holds for students in the Faculty of Law.  “I think that the Legal Clinic, which has been running since 2004 as a compulsory subject, in cooperation with UNHCR Montenegro, is one of the best specialized courses at the Faculty, as it provides students with an opportunity to deal with complex institutes of international law through practice. The cooperation with UNHCR is valuable for the Faculty of Law and I am honoured to be, along with the head of Department for International Cooperation, Professor Nebojša Vučinić, a part of the team that initiated and founded this project,” Jelic stated. She also pointed out that feedback from students in the Faculty of Law has been equally positive, “I have an opportunity to regularly hear students praising the organization and running of the Clinic.”

Such statement was confirmed by Damir Lekic, one of the students receiving a diploma, who commended the programme for exposing students to various aspects of international refugee law. “Besides learning about the international standards, through the Legal Clinic programme we had the opportunity to study the specific examples and areas from the UNHCR’s mandate. Thus, the clinic had multiplied benefits for us and I am quite sure that the knowledge we obtained will be helpful for us in the future endeavours,” Lekic stated.

Both Ms. Helleland and Ms. Jelic applauded the cooperation between the University of Montenegro and the UNHCR in the execution of the programme. Ms. Helleland stated that “the Legal Clinic is the most important result of several years of cooperation between the Faculty of Law and the UNHCR Montenegro.”

This year the presentation of certificates to Legal Clinic students was carried day ahead of the World Refugee Day, which is observed all over the world in order to raise awareness of the plight of refugees.