The topic of discussion at the meeting, held upon the request of the Head of the Programme Office of the Council of Europe, was the future cooperation of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms with the Office of the Council of Europe in Podgorica.
The representative of the Office of the Council of Europe said that, on 18 October in Podgorica, she will organise a training on “Ethics, prevention of the conflict of interest and good conduct of MPs” and that she will invite members of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms, Anti-corruption Committee, Administrative Committee, as well as members of the Gender Equality Committee, in accordance with the suggestion of the Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms. The training represents a continuation of activities which started with the visit of the expert of the Council of Europe Mr Quentin Reed in December 2016, and continued with the Workshop on “Ethics and prevention of the conflict of interest” of March 2017, in which members of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms and of the Anti-corruption Committee actively participated. She said that they plan to establish a continuous annual education programme on ethics and integrity for members of the Parliament of Montenegro in order to contribute to fulfilling the GRECO recommendations aimed at Montenegro. In order to implement these activities, they also deem it necessary to formally define cooperation with the Agency for Prevention of Corruption, whose representatives will hold trainings for MPs, while the Office of the Council of Europe will financially support these activities. Representatives of the Programme Office of the Council of Europe in Podgorica wanted to know whether amendments to the Code of Ethics for MPs were planned and whether in that respect they could provide expert assistance of the Council of Europe by having an expert participate in the work of the working group for preparing amendments to the Code of Ethics for MPs or give his/her comments to the working version of the draft amendments to the Code.
Head of the Programme Office of the Council of Europe in Podgorica Ms Angela Longo reminded that the experts of the Council of Europe, among who were some members of the Venice Commission, in the previous period had provided significant assistance to Montenegro and voiced willingness that the Office of the Council of Europe in the upcoming period be a mediator in communication of the authority bodies of Montenegro with the relevant bodies of the Council of Europe, especially with regard to providing expert assistance in all areas of human rights.
Chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms Mr Halil Duković also welcomed and supported the initiative for establishing cooperation for organising trainings for MPs and proposed the signing of the memorandum of understanding. The Chairperson of the Committee said that the current Code of Ethics was absolutely inapplicable. However, he deems that it would not be good to adopt a new Code of Ethics for MPs in the period when the opposition MPs are boycotting the work of the Parliament, because the Code would also be applied on them. He informed his interlocutors that in July 2017 the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament of Montenegro were amended to define more clearly the norms referring to maintaining order in the sittings of the Parliament, as well as in the meetings of working bodies of the Parliament. The measures that the President of the Parliament or a chairperson of the Committee may undertake in case of disturbance of order in the sitting/meeting were prescribed in detail. The duration of the imposed measures and the amounts of fines ranging from 10% to 50% of the MPs’ salary, depending on the imposed measure, were determined. The Chairperson of the Committee Mr Duković informed them that the formed working group to work on the amendments to the Code of Ethics for MPs and the expert assistance of the representative of the Council of Europe who could give comments and suggestions to the draft document were invaluable.