Montenegro Court Facilities Inadequate, NGO Says

Poor infrastructure and lack of space are some of the biggest problems in the country’s judicial system, an NGO report says.A report on trial monitoring by a Montenegrin NGO, the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, CEDEM, says the principles of publicity, presumption of innocence and right to efficient defence are generally followed by courts in the country.

It highlighted impediments in terms of physical access to courts as one of the biggest problems.

Covering the period between April 2011 and August 2012, the report was presented on Monday in Podgorica.

The report aimed to determine the extent to which parties’ basic rights were followed in more than 120 criminal cases tried during the reporting period.

“The lack of spatial capacity in most courts is evident,” the report said, adding that technical equipment also needs improvement.

Poor infrastructure is particularly visible in Podgorica’s Basic Court, a court handling the largest number of cases, the report said.

Some trials elsewhere were even held in offices, which could not accomodate all the parties, let alone an audience.

In one case, police officers and a witness had to stand during the trial because they had nowhere to sit.

The report also calls for architectural barriers affecting person with disabilities to be removed.

The monitoring team deployed by CEDEM also found that a right to trial within reasonable time, although generally respected, was sporadically hampered by lack of discipline on the part of the parties and the defence. In some cases, the police failed to bring the accused before the court.

The document suggests the introduction of judicial police in charge of bringing to court people who previously failed to comply with court orders.

This would increase the independence of the judiciary by making the courts less dependent on other authorities, the report suggested.

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