Today is 25th of November, International day for the elimination of violence against women and the beginning of global campaign “16 days of activism against gender-based violence” conducted in Montenegro by NGOs active in the area of protection of human rights and offering support to women and children who experienced violence: Women’s Rights Center, ANIMA – Center for women and peace education, Center for Roma initiative, Women’s Safe House, SOS hotline for women and children victims of violence Podgorica and SOS hotline for women and children victims of violence Nikšić.
Practice of institutions in the area of protection of women and children who survived family violence represents a test for the rule of law in one country – a test which Montenegro failed to pass.
Monitoring of the procedures that our organizations continually conduct in this area indicates a mild penal policy, which promotes a policy of impunity and lack of effective physical protection of victims, and that represents an institutional discrimination which in many cases led to repeated victimization and punishment of victims, instead of sanctioning perpetrators. Over the last couple of years, few cases have been recorded where violence even led to death of the victims (women and children).
That kind of policy mirrors in the recent judgement of the Basic court and later of the High court in Podgorica, where an internationally recognized human trafficking victim, contrary to all the principles of justice and equity, as well as to all international standards that Montenegro was eager to adopt and is obliged to respect them, was found guilty for perjury and sentenced to one year in prison. We would like to remind you of the case of family violence victim from Bar–in spite of numerous attack reports even in the presence of an officer, she didn’t receive adequate protection, and was forced to defend herself from perpetrators due to which she was found guilty for family violence and sentenced to 30 days in prison.
That kind of policy is also personified in the tolerant attitude of the country towards child-forced marriages that the country failed to process and also failed to protect and take care of girls who are victims.
These judgements send worrying messages of country’s tolerant attitude towards perpetrators and violence, discouraging persons who have experienced violence to report to the police. It also points to the weakness of the country to ensure rule of law and access to justice.
This year the International day for the elimination of violence against women and the campaign “16 days of activism against gender-based violence” overlap with three extremely important events: Istanbul Convention coming into force as legally bounding and far-reaching international document in this area, 20th anniversary of Beijing action platform, and 25th anniversary of adoption of UN Convention on child rights.
Therefore, this is a great opportunity to draw additional attention of the country on the problem of violence against women and girls.
We request from Montenegro the following:
- To put the rights of victims in the center of all measures and to provide effective cooperation of all competent authorities, institutions and organizations (Article 7 of Istanbul convention)
- To refrain from participation in any act of violence against women and to ensure that state authorities, officials, officers, institutions and other actors that act on behalf of the country will act in accordance with this obligation,
- To take necessary legislative and other measures in order to prevent, investigate, sanction and ensure reparation for the acts of violence included in the Istanbul Convention committed my non-state actors (Article 5 of the Convention)
- To recognize the importance and support sustainability of specialized women services that provide support to victims of violence, and to recognize, incite and support, at all levels, the work of NGOs and organizations of civil sector in combating violence against women and to establish effective cooperation with these organizations (Article 9 of Istanbul Convention)
- To provide independent and unbiased monitoring and evaluation of the policies and laws in the area of gender-based violence and gender equality, as well as to strengthen supervisory function of the Parliament of Montenegro.
NGO Women’s Rights Center
Maja Raičević, executive director
NGO ANIMA Kotor
Ljupka Kovačević, coordinator
NGO Center for Roma Initiatives
Fana Delija, executive director
NGO Women’s Safe House
Ljiljana Raičević, president
NGO SOS hotline for women and children victims of violence Podgorica
Biljana Zeković, executive director
NGO SOS hotline for women and children victims of violence Nikšić
Nataša Međedović, executive coordinator