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Montenegro Law on National Minorities could exclude most vulnerable

15 March 2004

The draft Law on Montenegro’s National Minorities has caused serious concern amongst representatives of minority groups who suggest that it is flawed and imprecise and could result in some communities, such as the Roma, being excluded from protection under its provisions. According to them, the law as it stands will fail to consider issues affecting internally displaced persons including members of Roma and Askhaleia Egyptian minorities from Kosovo who have settled in Montenegro, potentially failing the most vulnerable.

Nedjeljka Sindik speaking on behalf of NGO, ASK, based in Montenegro called upon the government to recommend the Working Group on the Law on Minorities in Montenegro to redraft the Law on Minorities, in recognition of these concerns. This, she stated, would conform to Article one of the same law which ‘shall ensure the protection of rights of national minorities, minorities (minority nations) and ethnic minorities and persons belonging to them, the rule of law and all the highest values of constitutional and international legal order’.

In addition to calling for greater protection of the rights of the most vulnerable under the Law on Minorities, concern was raised over provisions to suspend the rights of minorities in situations where there is an immediate danger of war, or a state of emergency is declared. This would effectively provide the state with the means to suspend rights and offer no security for minorities in conditions of instability when they may be most in need of protection of their rights.

Responding to the inconclusive reply of the representative of the government of Serbia and Montenegro, Ms Sindik highlighted the opinion on Serbia and Montenegro of the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). This document, she stated, strongly supported NGO ASK’s position regarding numerous issues, including that regarding citizenship, the situation of the Roma in Montenegro, and the need for initiatives to ensure greater future participation for minorities in economic life.

Notes for editors

Download the full intervention delivered to the UN Working Group on Minorities.

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