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Montenegrin Deputy Minister attends NHC Study Visit on Probation and Alternative Sanctions

18 September 2018

Wednesday 12 of September 2018 Montenegro’s Deputy Minister for Criminal Sanctions Enforcement Department, Natasa Radonjić  took part in a study visit focused on probation in Montenegro. The study visit, organized by the NHC in close collaboration with the Dutch Probation Service, was part of a Montenegrin delegation visit to the Netherlands to discuss reforms to the Rule of Law in Montenegro in relation to Montenegro’s potential accession to the EU. The delegation was led by Zoran Pažin, Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Justice and acting Minister of the Ministry for European Affairs in Montenegro. The visit, during which the NHC facilitated a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Pažin and the Dutch Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker, built on the already existing relationship between Dutch legal experts and the Montenegrin Ministry for Justice.

 

The study visit (left to right): Robin Duiff, Jochum Wildeman, Marco Bal, Raymond Swennenhuis (coordinator International Contacts Reclassering Nederland), Deputy Minister Natasa Radonjić and her interpreter.

Sharing expertise

Radonjić, greeted by NHC Program Manager Koen Goei, watched presentations by Dutch experts on issues relating to the establishment, maintenance and development of an effective system of probation and alternative sanctions. Specifically, the study visit saw Paul Minnen deliver a presentation on electronic monitoring and Robin Duiff, Jochum Wildeman and Marco Bal present on community service. Both electronic monitoring and community service are features of the Dutch criminal justice system that have enabled the Netherlands to optimize the effectiveness of their alternative sanctions program. The Montenegrin delegation was encouraged to continue to develop such systems in their own country and take advantage of shared expertise on the issues. Following these presentations, Radonjić attended an action-learning session on group community service in the Hague’s Zichtenburg.

Rule of Law Reform in Montenegro

The visit should be understood in the context of widespread reform in Montenegro. In order for Montenegro to be accepted into the EU, for which it has been a candidate for accession since 2010, it has been working to strengthen the Rule of Law in the country. This is especially true in the area of criminal justice. The EU has previously recommended that Montenegro work to reduce its prison population and establish an effective system of probation and alternative sanctions.

The NHC, through its recent study visit and ongoing programs, has sought to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practice between Montenegro and the Netherlands”

The NHC’S work on Rule of Law reform in Montenegro has placed special emphasis on developing and strengthening relationships between Dutch experts on probation and alternative sanctioning and Montenegrin officials working in the same area. Expertise from the Netherland plays a crucial role in the continued development of the probation service systems in Montenegro. The NHC, through its recent study visit and previous programs, has sought to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practice between Montenegro and the Netherlands. Radonjić’s presence at this recent study visit is a scheduled part of the , Strengthening the Probation and the System of Alternative Sanctions in Montenegro and Serbia. The program, which will run from 2017 to 2020 and is led in partnership with  the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), organizes peer-to-peer training between Dutch probation experts and Montenegrin prison staff, probation officers, judges and prosecutors.

Dutch Minister for Legal Protection, Sander Dekker (left) and Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin.

Following the delegations visit, Deputy Prime Minister Pažin has expressed his gratitude for the support of both the Dutch government and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee for their continued efforts towards the development of a system of alternative sanctions in Montenegro.