Statement Discredits MANS

Civil Rights Defenders calls the government of Montenegro to refrain from attempting to undermine and discredit organisations, fulfilling an important function in a democracy.

We are deeply concerned about the recent statements regarding The Network for Affirmation of the NGO Sector (MANS) and other non-governmental organisations, following a peaceful protest in Montenegro in January.

“It is absolutely crucial to every democratic country to respect human rights including freedom of assembly and association. The government must also respect the right to access to information”, said Goran Miletic, Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders.

As a leading organisation in the fight against corruption in the region, MANS was asking the Public company “Elektroprivreda” and Regulatory Agency for Energy to provide them with contracts regulating import of electricity. This was done after announcements that the electricity prices would be increased in Montenegro. However, the request for information was rejected and the contracts were labeled “secret”.

As a response, MANS and several other NGOs organised a peaceful protest in Podgorica. The Montenegrin government responded by saying that NGOs should “implement activities that are profiling them as a part of civil society. Everywhere in the world, NGOs are not opposition organisations, but partners of the government in solving problems. That is why they receive donations.”

“This displays a fundamental lack of understanding about the role of human rights defenders, civil society, freedom of assembly and association” said Goran Miletic, Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders.