Representatives of Montenegrin Institutions Meet in Budva: We’re Prepared to Protect the Rights of Aliens and Asylum Seekers Representatives of the Montenegrin Administrative Court, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of the Interior, non-government and international organisations, Montenegrin misdemeanour and courts of general jurisdiction, the Ombudsman, and the Bar Association are meeting in Budva on 15 and 16 December 2022 to discuss the protection of aliens under Convention law. The two-day event, organised by the AIRE Centre and the Montenegrin Ombudsman, with the support of the British Embassy in Podgorica, provides practitioners focusing on this issue with the opportunity to discuss the law and case-law of international courts, as well as the practices of Montenegrin state institutions and courts. Lectures were delivered by Nuala Mole, Founder and Senior Lawyer at the AIRE Centre and Markella Papadouli, lawyer and Europe Litigation Coordinator at the AIRE Centre. British Deputy Head of Mission Sarah Pilbeam said that support to the rule of law was one of the UK’s main priorities with respect to Montenegro and that the UK recognised that strong institutions ensuring the respect of everyone’s rights were the pillar of resistant democratic societies. “In cooperation with the Montenegrin judiciary, we and our partners in the AIRE Centre have worked on analysing and addressing the obstacles to access to justice for Montenegro’s citizens through targeted programmes aimed at capacity building, sharing best practices and improving regional cooperation. This conference is part of our wider efforts to foster the respect of human rights in Montenegro. Adequate integration of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights is an important prerequisite for the process of your accession to the European Union. It ensures the consistency of case-law, which, in turn, positively impacts people’s trust in the rule of law system and its fairness,” Sarah Pilbeam said. Montenegrin Ombudsman Siniša Bjeković said that the institutions had to be ready to protect the most vulnerable groups, such as refugees and asylum seekers. "People who have unwillingly left their homes are one of the most vulnerable groups globally. What usually awaits them in the destination countries is a hostile and unsafe setting unwilling to understand their position. Institutions, state authorities and society on the whole must do their utmost to ease their situation while they are in Montenegro,” said Bjeković. President of the Montenegrin Administrative Court Gore Miodrag Pešić spoke about the role of the Montenegrin judiciary in this area. “Notwithstanding its large caseload and lack of judges and advisors, the Montenegrin Administrative Court has been contributing to the regulation of the legal status of aliens substantially, by adopting decisions in accordance with the law which guide, and, if necessary, rectify the decisions of the state administration. For instance, it has ruled on 124 of the 140 asylum cases and is expected to rule on the remaining 16 cases in the near future,” said Miodrag Pešić. The AIRE Centre, one of the organisers of the conference in Budva, is well-known for its efforts to protect the human rights of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers both across the region and Europe. “The European Convention on Human Rights does not protect only the nationals of the Contracting Parties. It protects all individuals in territories under their effective control. The status of asylum seekers, temporary residence, deportation and extradition are important issues that arise in this context. We will discuss both them and the issues of immigration-related detention, and the status of reception centres and transit zones. We have to share experiences, point out shortcomings in law and practice, as well as identify what the Montenegrin judiciary can do to protect the human rights and status of aliens, said Biljana Braithwaite, the Director of the AIRE Centre’s Western Balkans Rule of Law Programme.