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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination considers report of Montenegro

6 February 2014

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination yesterday completed its consideration of the combined second to third report of Montenegro on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Presenting the report, Suad Numanović, Minister of Human Rights and Minority Rights, said that, since regaining its independence in May 2006, Montenegro had made significant progress in the development and building of a stable legislative and institutional system for the exercise, protection and promotion of human rights and freedoms. Ensuring authentic and proportional representation of minorities in the Parliament, municipal councils and administrative bodies remained a challenge, while the 2012 to 2016 strategy for improving the position of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro addressed, for the first time, the specific needs of that population.

During the discussion, Committee Experts praised Montenegro for the gender balance of its delegation, and for addressing the list of issues and observing deadlines. They asked for statistical data from the latest census, inquired about the capacities and effectiveness of the office of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, and raised issues of authentic minority representation in the Parliament. Experts were also interested in the position of the Roma in Montenegro, and the future of the Konik Camp in Podgorica.

In concluding remarks, Anwar Kemal, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for Montenegro, said the constitution and legislation of Montenegro included the necessary provisions and described Montenegro as a “heaven surrounded by turbulent seas”. Mr. Kemal also commended two non-governmental organizations, CEDEM and YIHR, for the information they had provided.

Mr. Numanović, in concluding remarks, said during the wars in the Balkans, Montenegro had managed to remain an island of stability and freedom, and had never steered away from addressing difficult issues, and was now a factor of integration for other Balkan states on their path towards the European Union.

The delegation of Montenegro included representatives of the Ministry of Human Rights and Minority Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education, Agency for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, Agency for Employment and the Permanent Mission of Montenegro the United Nations in Geneva.

The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 10 a.m. this morning when it will complete its consideration of the combined sixteenth to nineteenth periodic report of Belgium (CERD/C/BEL/16-19).


The combined second to third periodic report of Montenegro can be read here (CERD/C/MNE/2-3).

Presentation of the Report

SUAD NUMANOVIĆ, Minister of Human Rights and Minority Rights of Montenegro, said that the initial report of Montenegro had been considered in March 2009, and the current report had been prepared with particular emphasis on the concluding observations and recommendations on the initial report.

Since regaining its independence in May 2006, Montenegro had made significant progress in the development and building of a stable legislative and institutional system for the exercise, protection and promotion of human rights and freedoms. The negotiation process with the European Union, which had begun in June 2012, would lead to further progress in the implementation of the required European Union and United Nations standards. Montenegro’s membership in the Human Rights Council had begun on 1 January 2013; this was a great honour and the country was aware of its responsibility to contribute to the promotion of the respect of human rights worldwide.

Mr. Numanović said that the Constitution of Montenegro protected the fundamental principles of human rights and freedoms, and guaranteed the protection of a set of special minority rights. During the reporting period, Montenegro had significantly strengthened the system of democracy and the rule of law, and improved the cooperation with international human rights entities, such as the European Court of Human Rights. A system of free legal aid had been set up and all judicial decisions were publicly available on the internet.

The latest amendments to the Criminal Code had introduced a mandatory aggravating circumstance to offences motivated by hatred. In 2010, the Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination had been passed, while the new Law on the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, a national mechanism to protect persons deprived of their liberty against torture and inhuman treatment, had been passed in 2011. Training and promotion included, above all, marginalized and most vulnerable social groups, and a comprehensive media campaign had been conducted in 2011 to promote anti-discrimination and protect the most vulnerable groups.

The establishment of the Council for Protection against Discrimination was very significant, as the body monitored and coordinated activities of all public administrative bodies in the application of statutory mechanisms for the protection against all forms of discrimination. New categories of discrimination had been introduced, including harassment, sexual harassment and racial discrimination. The position of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population had improved over the past years, gaining more visibility, also through the first Pride Parade in 2013. Significant efforts had been made to ensure equal opportunities for women, and measures had been taken to promote political and economic empowerment of women and suppress violence against women.

A regulatory framework was in place allowing for further enhancement of good inter-ethnic relations in Montenegro and the protection of the rights of national minorities. Ensuring authentic and proportional representation of minorities in the Parliament, municipal councils and administrative bodies remained a challenge. A strategy for improving the position of Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro 2012-2016 addressed, for the first time, the specific needs of that population. The goal was to reduce the differences which existed between the position of that community and the rest of the population. The most important activities had been related to governing the legal status of members of the community, supporting early development and learning, and desegregating the local branch of an elementary school in Podgorica. As of June 2013, Montenegro had been chairing the “Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015”, which Montenegro was using to open up a number of important issues related to the integration of Roma, including education.

A strategy on finding durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons had been in place since 2011, the goal of which was to resolve the status of those persons in a sustainable way in line with international standards. They could exercise the same rights as Montenegrin citizens when it came to education, social and child protection, health care, pension and disability. The National Housing Programme should contribute to the closure of the Konik Camp, the largest camp for displaced persons in Montenegro, but also of other collective centres for housing displaced and internally displaced persons.

The Law on Free Legal Aid from 2011 prescribed that free legal aid should be provided without direct or indirect discrimination on any ground. Free legal aid offices had been opened in 15 courts.

The rights of persons deprived of liberty merited the particular commitment of Montenegro. The trend of pronouncing alternative sanctions and reducing the number of prison sentences aimed at reducing the number of people deprived of liberty. Capital investments in the construction of new prison facilities and a prison hospital were underway.

A new Freedom of Religion Law was being currently drafted, and it should define the position of the State vis-à-vis religious communities, and positioned religious communities in secular Montenegrin society.

All civil servants exercising public authority, particularly those from the Police Directorate and the judiciary, had regular and continuous training on international and national standards for the protection of human rights and freedoms of all, and especially of vulnerable groups.

Questions by Experts

ANWAR KEMAL, Country Rapporteur for Montenegro, commended the delegation for addressing the list of themes sent to the State party and for the timeliness of its combined report. The gender balance of the delegation was also commended. He recommended several areas for possible compression, abbreviation or modification, as the State party’s report exceeded the suggested page limit by 50 per cent.

Mr. Kemal listed the following positive elements as stated by the State party: the Law on Amendments to the Law on Minority Rights and Freedoms, the significant participation of non-governmental organizations in the development of strategic state documents and various policies, and the adoption of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination and the Law on the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms. Even though a young country, Montenegro had put in place serious institutional and administrative measures to combat racial discrimination.

While the State party provided statistical data indicating the position of different ethnic groups in Montenegro, from the Census 2011, the Committee would appreciate receiving the information in areas of importance, such as disaggregated data on educational, social, economic and employment levels.

Mr. Kemal said that the Committee would appreciate receiving information on the evaluation of the effectiveness of the training and ad hoc specializations of those employed in the public administration, particularly the judiciary. Only a small number of cases relating to discrimination had been received and processed by the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, and the question was raised why there were so few cases. In addition, adequate data regarding the application of relevant laws and legal guarantees against discrimination was still lacking.

An update was requested on the amendments to the legislative framework allowing for more efficient and successful action by the Protector on the complaints related to the prohibition of discrimination and the prohibition of torture.

While four out of 21 members of the Government in 2009 belonged to minority nations, there was a lack of verifiable and systematic data on authentic representation of minority groups in the Parliament. Even though the precise figures could not be obtained because citizens were not required to list their national or ethnic origin, such lack of data prevented evaluation of the results of anti-discrimination and minority policies.

Mr. Kemal expressed appreciation for the fact that Montenegro had adhered to the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, as recommended by the Committee. He asked for information regarding procedures for birth registration and subsequent birth registration, the refugee status determination procedure, as well as on the status determination procedure for stateless persons and the number of officially stateless persons in Montenegro.

Even though the Government was undertaking efforts to promote programmes for the Roma population, the impact of such programmes was limited in relation to the overall Roma population. The Committee recommended that the State party continue to address the various factors responsible for the low level of education among the Roma. Much more needed to be done for those people if they were to become productive members of the society. Substantial technical and financial assistance would be needed in order to properly tackle that Europe-wide problem.

Mr. Kemal asked about the treatment of visibly different people in Montenegro, such as Africans and Asians. He also inquired if there were any neo-Nazi groups in Montenegro. He asked for more information on cases of ill-treatment and police brutality towards ethnic minorities.

Montenegro was the most welcoming country for refugees in the area, especially for those displaced from Kosovo, an Expert said. The issue of treatment of asylum seekers and an opening of a special asylum centre was raised by an Expert who also asked what percentage of detainees were from minority ethnic groups. The Expert asked for updated data on asylum seekers, and inquired about housing for that group. Were they coming from neighbouring countries, and what was their ethnic origin?

An Expert asked who the stateless people were and what was being done in order to address their status. Why did Montenegro still continue to apply the distinction between the displaced and internally displaced persons, given that Montenegro was no longer in the union with Serbia?

The Expert raised the issue of gender equality, noticing that Roma women were exposed to double discrimination in the labour market, partly because of their prevailing illiteracy. Could the delegation give an opinion on overcoming the negative aspects of Roma heritage and life style?

Given that the Constitutional Court had struck down some legal provisions on minority representation in the Parliament, an acceptable formula should be found to ensure their due representation, which would still respect the constitutional provisions on equality. The Expert recommended that Montenegro look for comparable cases around the world, whose best practices it could then apply in its own legislation. How many people had actually gone through training at the Centre for Judicial Training of Montenegro? The Expert said that having the facts would help measure their successfulness.

Had the Convention ever been directly invoked in front of any court in Montenegro, an Expert inquired. The Expert asked if the prosecutor’s office decided not to prosecute a case of racial discrimination, could the affected individual appeal directly to a court.

Issues of sanctions against police and the application of norms in line with the Paris Principles were raised. The definition of race and various grounds for discrimination were also addressed and clarifications requested. An Expert asked about the activities and effectiveness of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms.

The Expert asked for clarifications regarding the usage of languages and alphabets in Montenegro. What was the status of Montenegrin vis-à-vis other languages in the country?

Who were the particularly vulnerable social groups in Montenegro in the opinion of the Government? Did the minorities in Montenegro have a body of representation, which could convey their concerns to the Government? Could more details be provided about the Fund for Minorities, its finances and projects it had supported?

On the issue of the Roma, Ashkalis and Egyptians, had the first strategy been evaluated and used for the preparation of the second document? Why had the name of Ashkalis been omitted from the second strategy?

Regarding the Konik Camp in Podgorica, which was a most striking example of segregation, was there enough political will to put an end to the existing situation and close down the camp?

Another Expert raised the issue of trafficking in persons, where Montenegro was listed as a transit rather than destination country. Could more details be provided about people caught up in the trafficking chain?

Another Expert asked for clarification of the term “Muslim” and whether the term was used as in the ethnic sense rather than a purely religious sense. Why were Muslims referred to as a separate group. Were the Kosovars considered as a nationality on their own, or were they counted as Albanians? He also asked why Egyptians were seen as a nomadic group similar to Roma rather than a national group with Egypt as a mother country? What was the distinction between the Montenegrins and the Serbs?

Response by the Delegation

Mr. Numanović thanked the Experts for their comments and very pertinent questions. He said that the State party had used the concluding observations and recommendations on its initial report to prepare the current report. The report was long as it combined the second and third periodic reports. Montenegro was committed to improving the collection of statistical data and was ready to present the census data from 2011. He also highlighted that the delegation was multi-ethnic and included representatives of different groups.

The Committee was reminded that Montenegro had renewed its independence quite recently, but it was an old European State which had existed for centuries. All members of minorities had been in favour of renewing the country’s independence.

Regarding the events in the former Yugoslavia, Montenegro had been fortunate enough to avoid warfare on its territory. Montenegro had opened its borders to all refugees fleeing from neighbouring republics which were going through wars, and at one point Montenegro hosted more than 120,000 refugees and internally displaced persons, which was more than 20 per cent of the population at the time. Even today, Montenegro was on the top of the European list when it came to the number of refugees per square kilometre.

The office of the Protector was financially independent and able to acquire further human capacities. A number of judges, prosecutors and police officers had been trained on human rights issues, which was an ongoing process, the delegate said.

The census had taken place in 2011, and all the data was now publicly available. About 45 per cent of the population were ethnic Montenegrins, followed by Serbs, Bosniaks and Albanians. As for the religion, the predominant group was Orthodox Christianity, followed by Islam and Catholicism. Citizens themselves had the right to express who they were and how they felt in terms of ethnic and religious affiliation, and all the data was collected from citizens’ unaltered statements.

The delegation further said that the laws on the prohibition of discrimination and the Office of the Protector of Human Rights had been adopted in recent years. The Protector had, inter alia, a mandate over issues of torture.

The Constitution defined that all accepted international documents were directly applicable when governing issues in a different manner from national legislation. International ratified documents had supremacy over national legislation, and judges were certainly informed of such obligations, including on the Convention in question.

The Protector was presenting his report to the Parliament on a yearly basis. The office was organizing various promotional campaigns across the country in order to familiarize the population at large of their rights. The State party paid significant attention to the work of that office, which could also hire external experts in addition to its permanent staff.

The Constitutional Court had declared two articles of that law promoting affirmative action unconstitutional because the court believed that guaranteed mandates infringed with the electoral process. At the end of 2011, political consensus had been reached to amend the Electoral Law in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission. There were no longer guaranteed mandates, but there were favourable conditions for political parties representing minorities to qualify for the Parliament. At the moment, three national parties had used the affirmative action to gain parliamentary seats – two Albanian and one Croat.

The delegation said that in the current Government, three out of 16 ministers were representatives of minorities. Local governments reflected the composition of the population at the local level, but there was room for increasing minority representation to assure the principle of proportionality. Heads of administrative bodies had to analyze the ethnic structures of those bodies and make efforts to ensure the fair representation of various ethnic groups.

Regarding Muslims as an ethnic group, the citizens of Montenegro had the free will to declare themselves as they wished. Their status as Muslims had been introduced in the former Yugoslavia, and some in that community had decided to keep the name even if many members of the community had started to declare themselves as Bosniaks following the breakup of the former country.

Efforts were underway to promote higher representation of women in political bodies and women’s economic empowerment, as well as to combat domestic violence against women. Negative discriminatory traditions of the Roma population included early, unlawful marriages for girls under 16, as well as contracted marriages arranged shortly after a child’s birth. Campaigns had been conducted to promote the rights of Roma girls.

On the linguistic situation in the State party, Montenegrin was the official language, while Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian and Albanian were also in official use. Courts in most municipalities had no capacities to provide interpretation in Albanian, whereas the other three languages were essentially the same as Montenegrin in the linguistic sense.

There were more than 2,000 Egyptians in Montenegro, but only 48 declared Ashkalis.

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said that at one point Montenegro had had between 120,000 and 140,000 refugees and internally displaced persons, and at the moment that number stood at about 16,000 persons. It was explained that refugees or displaced persons had come from internationally recognized countries, primarily Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, while people who had arrived from Kosovo were treated as internally displaced persons, given that Montenegro, at the time, had been in the same State with Kosovo. The term internally displaced persons continued to be used.

Of those who arrived from Croatia, the large majority were Serbs, and of those who came from Kosovo, the majority were Montenegrins, but also included Serbs and Roma. Many of those people stayed in Montenegro and still lived there.

Montenegro took part in many regional initiatives dealing with the issue of the displaced, including the so-called Sarajevo Process, the aim of which was to find a durable solution for the most vulnerable categories of displaced persons in the Balkans. Efforts were underway to construct additional housing, including for the elderly. A number of projects were taking place in and around the Konik Camp, with the view of creating additional quality housing.

Responding to a question as to whether the displaced persons felt persecuted, the delegation explained that all such people lived in Montenegro on a voluntary basis, and there was no persecution, with a possible exception of a small number of Roma. They had all been provided with the opportunity to apply for and receive new alien status. They had access to a number of services provided by the State, and there were no limitations on their freedom of movement.

Concerning asylum seekers, the delegation said that until 2010, there had been only 240 asylum cases, but in 2013 3,500 persons had sought asylum. A new accommodation centre had been opened for the most vulnerable categories of asylum seekers. It was clear that additional shelters had to be provided, the delegation said.

The Law on Aliens from 2009 had guaranteed displaced and internally displaced persons the right to get temporary and permanent residence in Montenegro; the deadline for applying for such status had now been extended till the end of 2014. More than 3,400 persons were yet to apply and request that their status be regularized. It was up to them to decide whether to apply and benefit from the system. Some 1,400 persons had been given Montenegrin citizenship thus far. In June 2011, Montenegro and Kosovo had signed an agreement on improving registration of internally displaced persons.

There were very well-defined rules regarding the acquisition of Montenegrin citizenship. It could be acquired if a person was over 18 years of age and had stayed in Montenegro for more than 10 years, had not been convicted to more than one year in prison in their country of origin, and did not represent a security threat to the host country.

Regarding education for Roma, a delegate said that 400 per cent more Roma and Egyptian children were enrolled in schools today compared to in 2001. Significant attention was paid to their inclusion, with the particular emphasis on the issue over the previous six years. Gradually, more and more Roma and Egyptian children had become enrolled to more and more regular town schools, which had led to incremental desegregation. Free textbooks and transportation were provided by the Government, as well as pre-school education. The principle of affirmative action was applied at high school and university level, and literacy efforts were undertaken for adults.

As of the end of 2013 there were some 1,100 unemployed Roma and Egyptians in Montenegro. That population was generally poorly educated, which limited employment opportunities. The Agency of Employment was undertaking active measures to promote employment, which included around 10 per cent of the Roma and Egyptian population. Still, very few among them had full-time contracts.

Regarding criminal offences of racial discrimination, a delegate said there had been two cases in 2011 (one committed, one acquitted), one case in 2012 and two cases in 2013, one of which had been dismissed and one discontinued. On why there had been so few cases, it was possible that there was low awareness or the reluctance of victims to report them. Everyone had the right to be informed of charges against them in the language they understood.

On war crimes, and in particular the case of Morinj, four people had been convicted and an appeal was underway. In the cases of the deportation of Muslims and Kaludjerski Laz, accused individuals had eventually been acquitted. Montenegrin Criminal Code had been amended on several occasions in order to be aligned with the international standards, primarily the European Union acquis.

Regarding the ethnic breakdown of incarcerated people, a delegate said some 1,100 persons were deprived of liberty, the large majority of whom were Montenegrins, followed by Serbs and others.

Control over the police forces existed at internal and external levels. The Parliament controlled the work of the police and the National Security Agency. In addition, the Council for the Civic Control of Police Forces was active and included representatives of physicians, lawyers, non-governmental organizations and the academia. The Code of Police Ethics had been adopted by the Ministry of the Interior and was applied by an intra-agency committee.

There was a specialized office for the suppression of the trafficking of persons, for which all the statistical data was publicly available.

The delegation provided details on the Fund for Minorities, which was tasked to promote cultural and linguistic traditions of minorities and donated money to various projects; the Minority Council, a self-regulatory body which was consulted in legislative process; and the Centre for Preservation of Culture of Minorities, which was funded from the budget.

If a person believe that they were discriminated against, they could directly bring the case in front of the court, or a non-governmental organization could also do it on their behalf.

Follow-up Questions by the Experts

An Expert asked whether teaching was provided in the Romani language, and whether there were textbooks or newspapers in that language. He also asked whether there were any people of African descent living in Montenegro.

Was there any special classification for children of mixed marriages, and were they exposed to discrimination, an Expert wondered.

An Expert expressed his opinion that, if envisaged in the nomadic sense of their tradition, the issue of the Roma was Europe-wide and had its own idiosyncrasies.

Response by the Delegation

Mr. Numanović said that mixed marriages represented the richness of diverse society in Montenegro.

European countries that were much richer and more developed than Montenegro had not resolved the Roma issue, a delegate commented, saying that Montenegro would continue to offer what it could to the Roma population, but the assistance of the international community was necessary.

The delegation explained that there was no teaching in the Romani language in Montenegro, mainly because the language had not yet been standardized, different dialects were in use, and there were no qualified teachers.

It was clarified that there were no people of African descent, either among displaced persons or asylum seekers, in Montenegro.

Parents or guardians of children from mixed marriages had to agree on how declare and register the child, and similarly had to decide on the language of instruction in school. State and church were separate, and the education system in Montenegro was secular, a delegate noted.

The only task of the Judicial Training Centre was to provide ongoing training of judges and prosecutors in a number of areas, including human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Follow-up Questions by the Experts

An Expert wondered whether there were any legal consequences in a person being classified as displaced or a refugee, versus an internally displaced person. Another Expert asked whether racism was an issue in the political discourse in Montenegro.

Could the delegation provide any evaluation of the effectiveness of the activities of the Prosecutor of Human Rights and Freedoms, a delegate asked. Another Expert asked for clarifications on religious categories of Islam and Christianity in the core document.

Response by the Delegation

Mr. Numanović explained that the law on the Prosecutor of Human Rights and Freedoms was being amended at the moment, which would further strengthen the office and expand its competencies.

The delegation said that both displaced and internally displaced persons were equally treated, but most attention was being paid to the most vulnerable category, which was the Roma. It could be said that high school education of the Roma children needed more focus, a delegate said. Mechanisms had been set up to deal with the issue of drop-outs. He also confirmed that children from the Konik Camp attended six regular town schools.

While most refugees came to Montenegro to stay, Montenegro was mostly a transit destination for asylum seekers, who on average spent 10 days in the country.

The promotion of racism and racist speech by political parties was prohibited by the constitution. No party in Montenegro had racist discourse, and there were no informal organizations of such nature either, a delegate confirmed.

Some 1,460 persons in the census had declared themselves as “Christian”, and not as Orthodox or Catholic, which had been reflected in the published results, another delegate clarified.

Follow-up Questions by the Experts

An Expert asked why same statistical data was not included in both the country report and the core document and pointed out discrepancies in the data.

An Expert said it was a pity that the Roma children were not taught in their language, and noted that the Romani language was being taught in schools in Serbia; the same should be done in Montenegro, even if for just one hour a day.

The Country Rapporteur took the floor to commend the delegation, saying that the amendment of the Criminal Code to introduce racial hatred as an aggravating circumstance was a positive development. Other Experts asked about hate speech towards the Roma and past tensions with the Albanian community.

Response by the Delegation

Montenegro had managed to avoid civil conflict, unlike other countries of the former Yugoslavia, a delegate said. The “Eagle’s Flight” case, which had been processed by courts in Montenegro, involved Albanians who had acquired a high quantity of illegal weapons, and was not representative of the relations between the majority and minority communities.

The delegation explained that the report under consideration had been drafted before the data from the census became available, but that new data had been included in the Core Document, which had been prepared more recently.

Out of 5,169 people who had said that they spoke Romani, it was quite difficult to organize teaching in the language. There had been attempts to organize classes in the Romani language, but most Roma children in Montenegro spoke Albanian. Summer schools in the Romani language had been organized. On many occasions, interpreters for Romani from other countries had to be hired for conferences and summer schools.

Ethnic distances did exist in Montenegro, as there was some resistance to having Roma neighbours or entering into mixed marriages with the Roma, but there were no organized groups promoting racist or fascist ideas. Furthermore, on 27 January, all schools in Montenegro dedicated one class to teaching about the Holocaust, to mark the International Day of Commemoration for Victims of the Holocaust.

Montenegro was making concerted efforts to combat discrimination against women, including the promotion of women’s empowerment and tackling domestic violence and forced marriages. The Government was well aware that the Roma women were doubly discriminated against, first for being Roma, and second for being women.

In recent years visibly different people, such as Chinese traders or shopkeepers, had never been harassed or discriminated against. In the 1990s, with the wars taking place in the Balkan region, there had been ethnic tensions in Montenegro, but they had not become out of control and were now matter of the past.

All offences motivated by racial discrimination and hatred were now considered as having aggravated circumstances. The Protector had the duty to investigate all allegations of racial discrimination.

Concluding Remarks

ANWAR KEMAL, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur for Montenegro, commended the delegation and said the constitution and legislation of Montenegro included the necessary provisions. Mr. Kemal described Montenegro as a “heaven surrounded by turbulent seas”. In its concluding observations, to be issued at the end of the session, the Committee would commend the State party for many positive steps but remind it to close loopholes. The Country Rapporteur also commended two non-governmental organizations, CEDEM and YIHR, for the information they had provided.

SUAD NUMANOVIĆ, Minister of Human Rights and Minority Rights, said that the Committee had examined, in a very professional manner, every detail and aspect of the report and thanked them. During the wars in the Balkans, Montenegro had managed to remain an island of stability and freedom, and had never steered away from addressing difficult issues. Now it was now a factor of integration for other Balkan states on their path towards the European Union. All concluding observations and recommendations would be duly considered and implemented, in cooperation with the civil sector. Additional information and statistical data would be supplied in the coming days, as requested.

For use of the information media; not an official record