Transparency International Condemns Montenegrin Parliament’s Dismissal of Anti-Corruption Campaigner

Transparency International (TI) has condemned the Montenegrin parliament’s decision to dismiss Vanja Ćalović Marković, the executive director of MANS, TI’s Montenegrin partner, from the Council of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption. TI says the decision was intended as retribution against Ms Marković for her NGO’s exposes concerning President Milo Đukanović and his family, and for her uncompromising fight against corruption. TI also condemned the fact that the parliamentary vote took place even though the country’s high court has not reached a verdict on Ms Ćalović Marković’s case.

“Allegations of conflict of interest against Ms Ćalović Marković are being disputed in a national court, with the case scheduled for July 17. Ms Ćalović Marković has not been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against her, contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights,” said TI in a statement.

Meanwhile, parliament also voted to dismiss Dr Irena Radović from the post of deputy central bank governor. According to Dr Radović, her dismissal was a consequence of her decision not to support the policy of the governor Dr Radoje Žugić, who is among President Đukanović’s most loyal party members. Dr Žugić allegedly ordered Dr Radović to impose tougher controls over some banks while leaving others to operate without any supervision.

Governor Žugić claims Dr Radović’s dismissal was a result of her incompetence and lack of professionalism.

In April 2018, the European Commission published a report on Montenegro which highlights challenges around conflict of interest cases, particularly those concerning members of civil society organisations and media, including the public broadcaster, RTCG, and the Council of the Agency for Electronic Media.

“Despite some progress, corruption is prevalent in many areas and remains an issue of concern. The operational capacity of institutions has improved; however, all institutions should demonstrate a more proactive attitude. Challenges to the credibility, independence and priority-setting of the Anti-Corruption Agency need to be addressed. Financial investigations and seizure and confiscation of assets remain to be improved. An initial track record of investigation, prosecution and final convictions in high-level corruption cases has been established, but needs to be further consolidated. Further improvements of the track record of successful investigations and convictions will only be possible in an environment where independent institutions are shielded from any undue influence and incentivised to fully use their powers,” stated the Commission.