Online exchange of experiences on constitutional issues concerning the Coronavirus pandemic

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

On 25 May 2020, constitutional court judges from Montenegro discussed various constitutional issues in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic with IRZ expert Professor Dr. Udo Steiner, a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court.

During the online event, Professor Steiner presented a selection of cases from the German Federal Constitutional Court, in particular on the subjects of

  • freedom of movement,
  • religious meetings,
  • right to protest and
  • right to pursue an occupation or business activity.

Professor Steiner talked about the decisions already made by administrative courts and by the German Federal Constitutional Court in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic. He stipulated that most of these decisions had been incorporated in interim legal protection measures and had largely verified the relevant measures taken by the government to contain the pandemic. Professor Steiner went on to say that it was, however, essential for the justifications behind the decisions to be checked regularly. The principle of proportionality plays a central role here.

The Acting President of the Constitutional Court, Desanka Lopičić, thanked the IRZ for the exchange of thoughts and experiences, which was organised at short notice, and for providing translations of relevant decisions made by the German Federal Constitutional Court. Together with her colleagues, she presented some cases from the Constitutional Court of Montenegro in connection with state measures to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.

Desanka Lopičić explained that, unlike other countries in the region, Montenegro had not imposed a state of emergency but had introduced various individual measures to restrict the spread of the virus and that some of these measures have currently been presented to the Constitutional Court for review.

During this exchange of experiences, it was agreed that the IRZ would promptly provide the Constitutional Court of Montenegro with further translations of current decisions made by the German Federal Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court of Montenegro is one of the few constitutional courts in South-East Europe, which not only uses the case law of the German Federal Constitutional Court as a point of reference, but also regularly quotes its decisions.

High-profile XIII National Anti-Corruption Conference in Podgorica


On 9 December 2019, the XIII National Anti-Corruption Conference was held in Podgorica, initiated by the non-governmental organisation MANS, a network supporting the NGO sector. As in previous years, the event was organised by the IRZ together with the EU delegation in Montenegro, the British Embassy and Transparency International.

The conference was opened by:

  • Dr. Robert Weber, German Ambassador,
  • Aivo Orav, EU Ambassador,
  • Alison Kemp, British Ambassador,
  • Mevludin Nuhodžić, Minister of Internal Affairs, Montenegro, and
  • Aleksandar Drljević, Chief negotiator for Montenegro’s accession to the EU.

The high-ranking international and national guests present at the start of the conference reflected the importance of the event.

During the main part of the conference, the participants discussed the following topics in three different panels:

  • Political corruption: Key issues in Montenegro
  • International standards and expert recommendations
  • The exposure and prosecution of high-level corruption

The first panel discussions mainly involved members of parliament representatives and party representatives. Experts from the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and from the ODIHR, the OSCE human rights organisation, were among the speakers on the second panel. The subject for the third panel was discussed mainly by investigators from Montenegro, Italy and Germany. Those who took part in the discussions included Milivoje Katni, a specialist Public Prosecutor from Montenegro, Dejan Milovac, a criminal investigations specialist from MANS and the Editor-in-Chief of the TV news programme “Vijesti”, Tatjana Ašanin. German expert knowledge of the subject was presented by Björn Ziera, a Public Prosecutor from Hamburg, who has already represented the IRZ in Montenegro several times before.

The entire event was characterised by an interested audience and lively discussions on some quite controversial subjects. As in previous years, there was a great deal of media interest in the event. Radio and press coverage focussed in particular on the fact that the fight against corruption must go on regardless of the persons involved.

New working programme for legal cooperation with Montenegro

Minister of Justice for Montenegro, Zoran Pažin, and Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Christine Lambrecht (Photo: Reiner Habig, BMJV)
Minister of Justice for Montenegro, Zoran Pažin, and Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Christine Lambrecht (Photo: Reiner Habig, BMJV)

On 14 November 2019, the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Christine Lambrecht, and the Minister of Justice for Montenegro, Zoran Pažin, signed the second work schedule for a Memorandum of Understanding between the two ministries in Berlin, which has been in place since 2014. The IRZ was represented at the event by its Managing Director, Dr. Frauke Bachler.

The main focus of this Memorandum is to support Montenegro in the expansion and development of its rule-of-law structures.

The new work schedule up to the end of 2021 includes measures on:

  • the fight against corruption,
  • judicial cooperation in criminal, civil and commercial cases,
  • anti-discrimination,
  • gender equality and
  • law enforcement and notarial matters.
The IRZ will play a major role in the implementation of these measures. At the same time, they form one of the main pillars of the IRZ’s activity in Montenegro. The work of the IRZ in South-East Europe focusses in particular on Montenegro, since the country is currently preparing for future accession to the EU.Morocco