IDLO together with the Government of Montenegro organized a Regional Forum on Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters in Bar, Montenegro from 14 – 15 December. The forum facilitated dialogue about cross-border judicial cooperation for effective criminal investigation in the region.
Funded by the Government of Italy, the regional forum aimed to promote integrated legal responses in regional corruption investigations by identifying the strengths and weaknesses among different legal actors involved.
It is the first initiative that the Ministry of Justice of Montenegro has implemented in cooperation with IDLO following the signing of the IDLO Founding Agreement and the initiation of admission procedures for Montenegro’s membership in IDLO.
“Strengthening judicial cooperation, enhancing the relevance of the rule of law in EU accession negotiations, as well as building on the extraordinary results achieved so far in this region and particularly here in Montenegro – these are our objectives,” says Mr. Ljubomir Petruljeskov, IDLO’s Program Implementation Consultant.
The forum was attended by 35 senior representatives from the Ministry of Justice and Prosecutor's office in Montenegro, representatives of international institutions in charge of the rule of law, and officials from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Nikola Saranovic, Director, Directorate for International Judicial Projects at the Montenegrin Ministry of Justice, commented: "Montenegro is ready to share its experiences so far with its neighbors, but also to recognize new models for strengthening the judicial cooperation system. With a clear commitment to cooperation, we can achieve better results in preventing illegal behavior on the continent, strengthen our legal system and harmonize it with the legal standards of the European Union.”
Participants at the Regional Forum on Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters in Bar, Montenegro
As Montenegro continues toward accession into the European Union (EU), bolstering judicial cooperation in criminal matters remains a high priority. When judges work across borders on criminal and corruption cases there are many factors that enable effective investigations such as exchanging classified information, handling procedural documents, transferring detained persons between countries, intercepting telecommunications and working with joint investigation teams.
Coordinated responses from all countries involved can improve justice responses and reduce corruption on national and regional levels.
“In Italy, we are all united in understanding how critical and important closer judicial cooperation is for this region. Sharpening of the set of arrows for fighting against illegality is on our daily agenda within EU negotiations and talks,” remarked the Ambassador of Italy to Montenegro, Mr. Vincenzo del Monaco. “I am particularly glad that this forum is taking place precisely here in Montenegro, the country that is the leader in this process.”
To jointly identify the challenges and opportunities among legal actors in the Balkans, the forum focused on good practices, EU standards and experiences of participating countries in their implementation of judicial cooperation in criminal and anti-corruption matters.
Mr. Saranovic announced that the Montenegrin Ministry of Justice has already prepared a draft law on judicial cooperation in criminal matters with the Member States of the European Union (EU). He went on to explain that after Montenegro’s accession to the EU, the new legal solution would prepare Montenegro’s legislative framework for close cooperation.
"Confidence among states and joint opposition to all forms of criminal activity is crucial for the overall socio-economic progress of our region," said Mr. Saranovic.
"Confidence among states and joint opposition to all forms of criminal activity is crucial for the overall socio-economic progress of our region" -Mr. Nikola Saranovic, Director, International Judicial Projects at the Montenegrin Ministry of Justice
Going forward, the Ministry of Justice of Montenegro seeks to organize yearly regional meetings to discuss progress made by the judicial authorities on direct cooperation in criminal matters, and the forum will follow up encouraging the creation of regional networks working for the promotion of the rule of law.
“We are using the rule of law to deliver peace and sustainability, to foster and consolidate growth,” continued IDLO's Mr. Petruljeskov, speaking about IDLO’s efforts. “Together with relevant stakeholders, IDLO is working in this direction.”