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Montenegro 2023

The UN Human Rights Council urged Montenegro to effectively prosecute war crimes, promptly investigate torture, and strengthen the judiciary.


Presidential elections in April ended Milo Djukanović’s three-decade rule. Following June’s parliamentary elections, a coalition government focusing on economic and judicial reform was formed in late October. In November, parliament elected the seventh constitutional court judge, ending months of deadlock.

Right to truth, justice and reparation

The only active war crimes prosecution continued against a former Bosnian Serb Army soldier, indicted for rape and murder in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

The European Court of Human Rights failed to recognize as victims the relatives of at least 66 forcibly disappeared Bosniak refugees deported to Republika Srpska in 1992 – and most of them murdered – on the grounds that they had received state compensation, and that the nine police officers responsible had been acquitted of war crimes. The 2012 proceedings had failed to respect international humanitarian law.

A legislative amendment adopted in May, which denied compensation to civilian war victims killed or forcibly disappeared outside Montenegro, was withdrawn in December, and a new amendment was proposed to include all civilian war victims. This would include relatives of the 20 passengers abducted in 1993 by Bosnian-Serb paramilitaries from a train travelling through Bosnia and Herzegovina, then murdered.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In July, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture urged Montenegro to end the culture of impunity for torture and other ill-treatment, ensuring that all allegations were effectively investigated. Some 200 complaints remained outstanding.

After nine months’ inaction, the interior minister suspended police officers accused of torturing Marko Boljević and Benjamin Mugoša; proceedings opened in April and May, respectively. In October, the refusal to prosecute 10 police officers for the torture of Jovan Grujičić’ was finally reversed.

Freedom of expression

Press freedom improved, but journalists rarely received replies to freedom of information requests. Impunity persisted for attacks on journalists, including the 2004 murder of Duško Jovanović, editor of Dan newspaper.

In January, the Appeals Court quashed proceedings against investigative journalist Jovo Martinović, wrongly convicted and imprisoned for drug trafficking.

Violence against women and girls

The authorities failed to guarantee women access to protection, support and justice in cases of domestic violence, and discriminated particularly against Roma and Egyptian women and women with disabilities.

LGBTI people’s rights

Lesbian and bisexual women in life partnerships were denied reproductive treatment, and the 2020 law on life partnerships was still not fully implemented. The government failed to draft the gender recognition law, delaying implementation until 2024. Impunity continued for attacks, online threats and discriminatory statements by politicians.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, observed a 35% decrease in refugees and migrants entering Montenegro. Two Montenegrin border police were indicted in February for assaulting migrants in 2022.

Right to a healthy environment

In October, 27 NGOs addressed the European Commission president, urging the EU not to support the construction of a liquified natural gas terminal at Bar, potentially increasing fossil fuel use in the region.