The first steering committee meeting of the joint European Union and Council of Europe action "Strengthening accountability of the judicial system and enhancing protection of victims' rights in Montenegro" was held on 7 March 2023. The meeting brought together action beneficiaries involved in justice reform and the protection of victims' rights to discuss the progress made under previous phases of the Horizontal Facility Programme as well further steps necessary for completing legislative reforms, strengthening the institutional performance of judicial bodies such as the Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils, judges, and prosecutors, and providing better support services, legal aid, and protection for victims involved in judicial proceedings. The action's third phase is set to run from January 2023 until the end of 2026. The meeting was productive and resulted in a valuable exchange of insights, ideas, and experiences among the participants.
Montenegro has been working on judicial reform to achieve progress in its EU accession negotiations under Chapters 23 and 24. While significant strides have already been made in improving the transparency and independence of the judiciary, more work still needs to be done to ensure accountability. The focus of the current phase of the action will be on completing necessary legislative reforms in line with the Venice Commission's recommendations, and strengthening the institutional performance of judicial bodies, particularly the Judicial and Prosecutorial Councils, judges, and prosecutors.
In addition to the justice reform, Montenegro is revising its criminal legislation to align with EU standards and the European Court of Human Rights case law. The action aims to provide better protection for victims involved in judicial proceedings by offering support services, legal aid, and protection from repeat victimisation.
The action “Strengthening accountability of the judicial system and enhancing protection of victims’ rights in Montenegro” is a part of the joint European Union and Council of Europe programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Türkiye”.