news 24 May 12

EU: Montenegro’s Refugees’ Status Improved

A progress has been made in ensuring the rights of Montenegro’s refugees, but institutional capacities for the enforcement of those rights need to be enhanced, the European Commission says.

Milena Milosevic

In its progress report on Montenegro, which was published on Tuesday, the European Commission positively assessed Montenegro’s efforts to guarantee the status of its refugees, though it highlighted the areas where more work still needs to be done.

Currently, Montenegro hosts over 12,000 people who have the status of “displaced” or “internally displaced persons”, although they are commonly referred to as refugees.

The most vulnerable among them are over 6, 000 of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians, who came to the country from Kosovo in 1999.

The European Commission, however, recognized the steps Montenegro has made to facilitate the legalisation of their status.

It emphasised the progress made in facilitating the civil registration of Roma, Ashkalis, and Egyptians and last year’s decision to extend the refugees' right to apply for the status of foreigner with permanent residence by December 2012.

“The number of applications is slowly but steadily increasing: around 48% of displaced persons submitted applications and 29% of them have been granted the status of foreigner in the country,“ reads the report.

The European Commission’s report is positive about the plan to resettle the refugees from the Konik camp into another area, despite the criticism made by some human rights activists that it would mean another “segregation“.

The report, however, urges the authorities to improve the access to economic and social rights for refugees and advance their inclusion, to tackle the discrimination of Roma women and to enhance institutional capacities to monitor, promote and enforce human rights in practice.

The Comission’s spring progress report on Montenegro confirmed earlier recommendations that the country should open talks with the EU in June.

Anti-discrimination policies for refugees and minorities is among the seven key areas whose progress has been closely monitored in order to determine the country’s compliance with the EU’s requirements.

The other six areas are anti-corruption policies, fight against organized crime, public administration, parliament, freedom of expression and assembly and judicial system.

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