“Access to justice under equal conditions and without discrimination on any grounds is one of the main principles of the rule of law”. This is a message from the round table „Right to free legal aid“, held in Podgorica that provided floor for discussion and exchange of experiences on the current free legal aid system and challenges Montenegro is facing in this area.
By ensuring the access to free legal aid, we are creating more equal opportunities for all citizens and contribute to the fairness of the judicial system as such. The round table gathered presidents of basic courts in Montenegro, representatives of Free Legal Aid Offices, lawyers and representatives of the Council of Europe and the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro.
Particular attention was given to the discussion of the proposed amendments to the Law on Free Legal Aid which are aimed at improving the availability and quality of the legal aid system in Montenegro, particularly for the most vulnerable categories. Ensuring the preconditions for protection of their rights is one of the main priorities. Thus, the question of protecting and supporting victims of trafficking in human beings, domestic violence and torture, as well as the status of Roma community was underlines as particularly important by the participants in the round table.
Experience in providing free legal aid to members of Roma population were presented by the colleagues from North Macedonia in co-operation with the action “Towards a consolidated and more Eeficient free legal aid system in North Macedonia” (Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye) and joint programme of the European Union and Council of Europe ROMACTED II – Promoting good governance and Roma empowerment at local level (programme run in Montenegro and North Macedonia).
This event was organised within a joint European Union and Council of Europe action “Strengthening accountability of the judicial system and enhancing protection of victims’ rights in Montenegro” and Centre for Training in Judiciary and State Prosecution.