Montenegro: Parliament ratifies amendments to Law on Freedom of Religion

Montenegro: Parliament ratifies amendments to Law on Freedom of Religion

Despite the reactions recorded from portions of the Montenegrin public, the deputies of the parliamentary majority adopted last night the amendments to the Law on Freedom of Religion, which “renders relations between churches, religious communities and the state fair and puts an end to conflicts produced by the previous law.”

Opposition deputies did not attend the session, with the Democratic Party of Socialists stating that all decisions of the Assembly regarding the Law were illegitimate and invalid.

DPS MP Duško Marković said at the press conference that a scandalous, unacceptable and unconstitutional majority had taken over and the legal verification of the parliamentary mandate of the URA Civic Movement had not been performed.

He announced that the DPS would file complaints to the competent institutions, which would decide on such behaviour by the majority, calling on the international community “to responsibly consider this behaviour of the majority and try to ensure the rule of law and respect for the political system.”

The deputies of the majority adopted the amendments of the URA Civic Movement, stipulating that the part of the religious community with a centre abroad not registered in the Unified Records, is obliged to act within the legal order of Montenegro. The amendment ensures that all religious communities respect Montenegrin laws, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also operate within the unified legal order of Montenegro.

The second amendment referred to Article 36, which now reads: “The control of the legality of the intended spending of funds on religious communities from the state budget and the budget of local self-government is performed by the competent authorities, in accordance with the law.” The goal of this revision is to introduce the principle of transparent spending and control of funds purposefully granted to religious communities from the budget.

Montenegro Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić assessed that the adoption of the Law on Freedom of Religion corrected the injustice that the former regime sought to inflict upon the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC).

Krivokapić said that, after a year, the injustice which “the former regime wanted to cause especially towards the Serbian Orthodox Church,” treating its property as other property of Montenegro, has now been corrected.

As he said, from now on, all religious communities are now equal before the law, without exceptions.

Another highlight from the session that wrapped up early this morning was the deputies’ refusal to put on the agenda the proposal of the Resolution on the genocide in Srebrenica, which was proposed by the Bosniak Party.

“Unfortunately, with this attitude towards the issue of a convicted genocide, the current government is sending the message that it does not want true reconciliation and is not ready to start the process of dealing with the past,” the Bosniak Party of Montenegro stated. /ibna