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News 17 Aug 12

Montenegro NGOs Face Mass Cull

Although the NGOs' register currently lists more than 6,000 such associations, most face being struck off the list, having failed to meet legal requirements by an August deadline.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

NGOs in Montenegro face the threat of mass extinction after the Ministry of Interior warned in early August that all NGOs registered according to an old law are obliged to align their statutes with a new law on NGOs by an August 13 deadline.

If they failed to meet the deadline, they will be struck off the NGO register, the ministry has warned.

Media reports say that only 300 have met the deadline, posing a threat to the other 5,700 or so groups.

The register, on the ministry's website, still lists more than 6,000. The most numerous are local associations, numbering 5,813. Some 79 foreign NGOs are also present in the country as well as 180 foundations.

Although the Ministry says it has repeatedly warned NGOs about the new law, Ana Novakovic, head of the Centre for Development of NGOs, told Radio Free Europe on Wednesday that her colleagues had not been adequately informed about their obligations.

Not everyone in the NGO world is unhappy with the envisaged sanctions. Some NGO heads have said the new law is an opportunity to bring some order into the sector.

Today, given the small size of country's population, there is roughly one NGO per every hundred Montenegrins.

There has been speculation that some NGOs were established purely to access certain financial privileges, such as tax breaks.

On the other hand, surveys show the public tends to trust civil society organizations more than political parties or parliament itself.

 

 

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