All posts by Milica Bogdanović

Transparency in Decision-making Processes in the WB

   

This paper “Transparency in Decision-making Processes in the Western Balkans” presents  the results of an inquiry into transparency of public decision-making in four Western Balkans countries – Serbia, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

It was inspired by a similar study conducted by Access Info Europe and partners during 2017, which found “an appalling lack of transparency of decision making across Europe, which prevents members of the public from following and participating in decision-making processes, as well as from holding public officials to account for their exercise of power”.

The judiciary is not yet fully open

According to this year’s research, the courts in Montenegro meet on average 56.5%, while prosecutor’s offices meet 65% of the openness indicators, These are the best results in the region, evidencing the low level of openness of the courts and prosecutor’s offices in the region.

In cooperation with partners from a regional network of NGOs “Action SEE“, the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) prepared the policy paper in which we analyze a level of transparency, openness and accountability of the judiciary in the Western Balkans region.

The Strategy for the Reform of the Judiciary 2014-2018 recognizes the need to strengthen citizens’ trust in the judiciary through access to information held by judicial institutions, but our research has confirmed that there is still a significant space for enhancing the openness of judicial institutions

Although this year’s result of the openness of judicial institutions in Montenegro needs to be seen in the context of introducing new and more strict indicators, the fact is that these institutions have not worked enough to develop the openness policy during the last year.

Courts publish most of the administrative information such as scope of work, regulations, trial schedules, lists of civil servants and employees with their titles…

However, the websites of most courts are not being updated with press releases or current events. Moreover, publishing information on earnings is also not a practice.

Courts should improve the mechanisms for communicating with the public. Our last year’s findings pointed to the need for improvement of courts’ communication policy with the media and the public, through the training for spokesman and development of a Communication Strategy. Although there is a person or public relations service in most courts, a large number of courts have no practice of publishing press releases, which would make the public aware of the news. Also other methods of communication are not being actively used.

Courts should also improve their capacities to apply the Law on Free Access to Information. More than half of courts (55%) who provided the answers to the questionnaires informed us that they had not participated in any of the free access to information trainings in the previous period.

It should also be added that 23% of courts do not have published updated Guidelines on their websites, and 92% do not publish a database with information granted access upon request.

On the websites of 31% of courts there is no published Code of Ethics of Judges. There is no information on filed complaints in court work reports, as well as violations of the Code of Ethics of Judges or disciplinary responsibility of judges.

As indicated last year, the prosecutor’s office website, although it contains a lot of data, is technically inadequate – there is no functional search, it is not transparent for use and is limited for further improvement of content. Therefore, the last year’s recommendation for creation of a new website

which would be adjusted to the number of institutions and the amount of information remains unchanged.

When it comes to transparency of the Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, key recommendations for improvement of the situation in the previous measurement remain unchanged. These councils should improve their financial transparency.

This research is done through Regional Openness Index which measures the degree to which the institutions of the Western Balkans are open to citizens and society, based on the following four principles: transparency, accessibility, integrity and effectiveness.

State Election Commission in Montenegro – a failed experiment

 

Since the introduction of the multi-party system in Montenegro, an efficient model of election administration work is being sought. All previous attempts have one common denominator: no “electoral authority” has emerged, which, by the authority of a strong institution, defends democratic principles and increases citizen trust in the electoral process. Continue reading State Election Commission in Montenegro – a failed experiment

Capacity building training held in Bijelo Polje

CDT organized capacity building training in Bijelo Polje, on 25th and 26th July 2018.

Trainings aimed to support organizations in achieving the greatest possible programme impact through strengthening their capacities and skills for developing, implementing and maintaining all relevant project and financial management aspects. Therefore, the training covered the topics of project management, good governance, promoting projects, policy advocacy etc.

Participants were very satisfied with the training, asking trainers for many advices and suggestions.

Trainers gave them training materials and remained open to any additional questions and explanations.

“I am very satisfied with the training and want to underline that in the situation of different challenges that one NGO could face of, sharing experience, lessons learnt and advices represent great benefit”, one of the participant said.

“My NGO doesn’t have so big work experience and this training offered me an excellent starting point for new improvements and developments”, another participant claimed.

The Parliament must improve its transparency

The Parliament of Montenegro din not increase the transparency of the work of the working bodies, as it is not possible to have their direct transmission or lists of votes of individual MPs at working bodies’ sessions.

This is stated in the analysis of the openness of parliaments’ work in the region by the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) in cooperation with partners from the ActionSEE Regional Network.

The Parliament of Montenegro, for the fourth consecutive year, is the most open in the region. It currently complies with 81% of the openness indicators.

Research shows that the Parliament publishes basic data on its work, but budgetary transparency has not been improved.

There has been no progress either in direct communication with citizens.

Facebook and Twitter accounts of the Parliament still do not exist, there are no possibilities for citizens to directly draw attention of their elected representatives to the negative phenomena in society and demand a quick response from them.

MPs must have intensive contact with the citizens and listen to their needs, rather than point them to slow and complicated procedures. The only thing left are quite backward procedures for the citizens having to raise 6000 signatures if they want to draw the attention of the people they have chosen.

The legislative activity of the Parliament has not been improved by increasing the capacity to assess the possible impact of legal solutions during their preparation.

It is also necessary to promote the publication of the budget and the final account on the website. Moreover, the budget documents were not published in open data format. The Parliament did not prepare the so-called Citizens’ budget, which aims to present the citizens with its revenues and expenditures in a simple and understandable way.

No Strategy for Development of the Parliament of Montenegro has been adopted.

There was no word about the need to change and improve the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, which would review the procedures that in practice create confusion and problems, but also often obscure and controversial way of functioning of the Collegium of the President of the Parliament.

Instead of the anticipated progress in the sphere of openness, parliaments in the region have achieved a weaker performance compared to the previous period of the research. Thus, openness in 2017, on average, is 61% of the indicators met. This result is less than 2% in relation to the openness in 2016, when it was 63%.

The openness of local governments – a problem in the region and Montenegro

Openness of local self-governments in Montenegro is still at a very low level. On average, they meet only 48% of the openness criteria, which is a weaker performance compared to the last year

Closedness of local self-governments is recorded in several fields: from the implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information, through displaying how the institutions spend citizens’ money, to the use of obsolete means of communication.

That is the result of the research which Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) conducted in cooperation with partners from a regional network of NGOs “Action SEE“.

The aim of the overall research is to provide a detailed overview of the situation in these areas, and to contribute to implementation of the public administration reform, to have the effect on strengthening the principles of good governance and to help the institutions implement them more effectively in their work.

In our sample, the best-ranked municipality was Tivat, which meets 63% of the openness criteria. The lowest ranked municipality was Šavnik, which meets half the less openness criteria – 31%.

Results show that on the websites of half of the municipalities, not all plans and programs of local assemblies for the last three years have been published, 36% of municipalities covered by the sample do not publish a list of civil servants and employees, and 72% of them did not even publish information on earnings of public officials.

More than half of municipalities (55%) have not published the updated Guidelines for free access to information. These shortcomings have not been remedied either by using of social networks through which municipalities could directly inform citizens and promote their activities.

It is necessary for local self-governments to urgently change this practice and to start informing citizens more actively about all the actions and results of their work and manners of functioning, but also to take advantage of all the opportunities for greater involvement of citizens in the decision-making process.

CDT presented a set of recommendations for improvement, based on Regional Openness Index:

* Improve arrangement and organization of local self-government websites

* Ensure publicity of the decision-making process in municipalities

* Provide unrestricted access to information of public importance

* Enhance communication with citizens and ensure efficient functioning of the service for citizens

When it comes to openness of local self-government in the region, it is noted that the lack of a strategic approach to openness is a common problem of most municipalities in the region.

Local self-governments in the region meet on average 31.5% of the openness criteria, which is a weaker result compared to the previous measurement. The weaker result was achieved in all the countries of the region with the exception of Albania.

Local self-government in Albania meets on average 27.55% of the indicators. Although such a level of openness is unsatisfactory, it represents an improvement compared to the last year, when it met on average 12.12%.

The research shows that local self-governments in the region are not sufficiently dedicated to informing citizens so that they can adequately participate in discussions about problems of local interest.

There is no progress in the openness of the executive

The openness of executive authorities in the region is not satisfactory, and institutions have achieved a poorer performance compared to last year’s research. Openness is still not the policy of the countries of the region, and so far only the Government of Macedonia has made progress in this area.

Montenegro’s executive power is still the most open in the region with a total of 55% of the indicators met, which more than a regional average of 43%.

Nevertheless, Montenegro fits in with the negative regional trend, and the executive power institutions seem to stagnate in total when openness is in question, and in some cases, backward steps are also noted.

The Regional Index of Openness of institutions is developed in order to establish to what extent citizens of the Western Balkans receive timely and understandable information from their institutions.

Through about 80 indicators per institution we measured and analyzed the openness of 275 executive power institutions and collected more than 15,000 institution data.

The measurement was conducted in the period from January until the end of March 2018. Based on the results, a set of recommendations and guidelines for improving the openness of institutions were created.

This year’s research has been enriched with indicators advocating a higher standard of openness of the institutions in the region.

We believe that such a strict approach partly affected the weaker performance of the executive power institutions. However, the results and the analyzed data show that the institutions generally did not work on the overall development of openness, so new indicators do not prevail in the weaker result.

Most of the 2017 conclusions remain unchanged: there are still no clear, consistent and strategic documents based openness policies.

There is no progress in the openness of the Government of Montenegro

The Government of Montenegro has a degree of openness of 69% of the indicators met. This is a weaker outcome than in the previous measurement, and there were three reasons for this.

Firstly, we introduced new and more demanding indicators in this year’s index, based on good practices and recommendations we sent to the institutions after the previous measurement.

The results show that the Government of Montenegro does not progress and does not develop practices and policies of openness.

Secondly, this year we did not get answers to the questionnaire we sent to the General Secretariat of the Government, which resulted in some indicators being negatively evaluated.

Finally, with regard to the indicators, there are clear negative trends and a decrease in openness.

CDT proposed to the Government of Montenegro the adoption of a strategic document that would institutionalize the policy of openness, in particular because of the fact that openness decreases significantly as we move to the lower hierarchical levels of administration.

At that time, we were told on several occasions that openness would be specifically addressed by the Communication Strategy of the Government of Montenegro 2017-2020, whose adoption was envisaged for the fourth quarter of 2017.

This strategy, without explanation, has not been adopted in 2017, nor is its adoption planned in the 2018 Work Program of the Government of Montenegro. The non-governmental sector has so far not been included in the activities of preparation of this document.

The Government of Montenegro largely meets the indicators in the area of administrative transparency, as it publishes most of the necessary information on public officials and civil servants, including detailed information on salaries public officials in the Government.

Transparency of the Government of Montenegro sessions is still an area in which further improvements are possible and needed.

The Government publishes censored session agenda, from which a large number of points discussed cannot be seen. Thus, the public is denied not only information about the contents of the protected acts, but the fact that they were even being discussed.

The Government of Montenegro has not even improved budget transparency.

Openness of the ministries in Montenegro

On average, the ministries in Montenegro meet 60% of the openness criteria. This result is the best in the region. However, there are not many reasons to be satisfied, as this result says more about the poor state in the region than about the good in Montenegro.

The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism ranked the best with 76% of the openness indicators met. The Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs ranked the lowest and meets only 34% of the openness indicators.

Such large differences in results are an evidence of unequal access to openness policies, and the need for strategic planning and development of openness at the level of all ministries.

Based on research, CDT believes that ministries shall improve the quality of its websites, timely publish organizational information and financial data, provide citizens with unhindered access to information of public importance and improve communication and interaction with citizens.

Openness of the administration bodies

On average, the administration bodies meet 36% of the openness indicators.

A large number of administration bodies are not committed to meeting the highest standards of openness, and not even to meeting the legal minimum of proactive disclosure of information. Such practice is unacceptable and needs to be changed urgently.

In our sample, the highest ranked were the Tax Administration (72.5%), the Secretariat for Legislation (55%) and the Statistical Office of Montenegro (51%). The lowest ranked were the Directorate for Execution of Criminal Sanctions (15%) and the Directorate for Development of Small and Medium Enterprises (16%).

Having in mind the alarmingly bad result in this area, we believe that the administration bodies must urgently update the websites and publish information on the work, in accordance with the Law on Free Access to Information.

Capacity building trainings held in Sarajevo

Biljana Papovic, Executive Director Deputy from CDT held the training on the topic of Challenges in Financial Planning, within Capacity Building Trainings organized in Sarajevo.

She explained all main elements of financial management, including: fundraising, preparation of project budget, project implementation and reporting and financial planning.

Participants were interested in the audit process, and discussed on the possibilities of financial impact of governments on the NGOs’ sustainability

Capacity building trainings held in Kolasin

CDT organized 3 capacity buidling trainings for the NGOs and media.

All three trainings took place in Kolasin, in Hotel Four Points, in the period 28.02-05.03.

CDT discussed with participants on topics such as project management and reporting, financial management, promotion of project finings, media and marketing, etc.

Also, these training served for presentation, planning and evaluation of the projects of the first and the second round of grant scheme.

Therefore, a special focus was on the implementation of EU projects and their procedures and rules, bearing in mind that the problem in Montenegro is that there are no adequate trainings for the implementation of EU projects for small NGOs. Help on this issue was necessary in order to build their capacities so they could apply on EU projects through partnerships.

Trainers and participants established good collaboration and agreed on future project developments and cooperation after these trainings.

Participantes were satisfied with the topics that were covered by trainings and the level of partiticpation and interaction during trainings.

„Lectures on successfull financial management and project planning are always very useful, even when you think that your organization is set on satisfactory basis for project management“, one of pariticpant said.

„I find very usefulf opportunity to directly share experince with media but also other NGOs on the issue of promotion of finindgs and success of advocacy activities“, another participant concluded.

2018 Presidential Elections – Live

Based on 100% of the sample the results are as follows:

Based on 100% of the sample the results are the following: Marko Milačić – 2.7% Mladen Bojanić – 33.5% Hazbija Kalač – 0.8% Vasilije Miličković – 0.4% Dobrilo Dedeić – 0.4% Draginja Vuksanović – 8.3% Milo Đukanović – 53.8%

Based on 90.5% of the sample the results are as follows:

Marko Milačić – 2.7% Mladen Bojanić – 33.3% Hazbija Kalač – 0.9% Vasilije Miličković – 0.4% Dobrilo Dedeić – 0.4% Draginja Vuksanović – 8.1% Milo Đukanović – 54.2%

Voter turnout in 2018 presidential elections in Montenegro is 64%. 

 

By 7 P.M. 59.3% of citizens voted.

By 6 P.M. 54.6% of citizens voted.


By 4 P.M. 46.5% of citizens voted.


Polling boards in 23 municipalities in Montenegro approved around 9,000 requests for home-bound voting, which is about 1.7% of the total number of registered voters. 

 
  • at PS No.19 Gallery “Center”, Podgorica, polling board allowed a person without valid personal documents to vote. The person voted based on the certificate issued by the Ministry of the Interior which states that documents were stolen and that a person is waiting for the new. This is contrary to the Article 80 of the Law on Election of Councilor and MPs which clearly states that voter proves his/her identity with a biometric ID card or passport, and that a voter can not vote without an identity proof.

Until 12PM 27,2% or 144.600 of citizens voted.
  • at PS No. 17 Brskovo, Mojkovac, political activists of the ruling coalition candidate, recorded voters in front of the PS. Therefore, activists of Democrats requested ending of voting procedure at that place. The problem was reported to MEC;
  • at PS No. 135 in Nikšić (primary school “Milija Nikčević“ A, entrance No.1) members of the polling board pronounced names of voters, contrary to the rules;
  • CDT  appealed to the polling boards to prevent ballot photographing and to inform voters that such ballots may be canceled due to violation of the secrecy of voting;
  • at PS No. 41 Desna Obala Ibra IX in Rožaje, a voter photographed the ballot. He did not allow polling board to annul it and he placed it in the ballot box with the control coupon;
  • at PS No. 22 Trepča, Andrijevica, a voter took photo of the ballot, which was not annulled;
  • at PS No. 14 A (Sports Center) in Podgorica, voters did not sign printed version of the voter register, contrary to Article 68b of the Law on Election of Councilors. After CDT intervention and visit of MEC Podgorica this pratice was corrected;

Today , citizens of Montenegro elect their President for the next five years. There are 532.599 of registered voters.

  Candidates for the President are:
  • Marko Milačić
  • Mladen Bojanić
  • Hazbija Kalač
  • Vasilije Miličković
  • Dobrilo Dedeić
  • Draginja Vuksanović
  • Milo Đukanović
 

Citizens of Montenegro can exercise their voting right at 1214 polling stations in 23 towns, as well as at polling stations in Detention and Rehabilitation Center Podgorica and Bijelo Polje prison.

Polling stations are opened from 7 to 20h.

Until 9AM 6.4% or 34.270 of citizens voted.

Irregularities noted so far:

  • in Rožaje, across the street of primary school “Mustafa Pećanin” where polling stations 1, 27, 29, 30, 37, and 38 are located, are premises of Bosniak Party (Bošnjačka stranka). Its activists from a window register voters;
  • although the Law on Election of Councilors and MPs foresees parity representation of both, representatives of the government and the opposition in polling boards, due to the specific composition of the local parliament in Nikšić, there are no representatives of the opposition in the permanent composition of polling boards;
  • at polling station No. 69 Vuk Karadžić, Podgorica, members of the polling board speak out loud names of voters, which is contrary to the rules which forbidden to polling borad president and members to pronounce name and surname of voter , and also his/her number in voters list excerpt.
  • at polling station No. 10 (Grammar School) in Cetinje a member of the polling board was late. Polling board replaced her with a deputy but seven persons voted before that which is contrary to the Article 72 of the Law on Election of Councilors and MPs which prescribes that while the polling station is opened and polling is in progress, all members of the polling board or their deputies must be present at the polling station;
  • technical problems with device for electronic identification of voters, as well as electricity failure in several polling stations;

CDT accredited and engaged 350 observers for election monitoring.

Citizens’ election monitoring CDT implements with the support of US Embassy in Podgorica, Rockfeller Brothers Fund, Embassy of the Netherlands in Belgrade and Viber company.