Millennium Bridge, Podgorica, Montenegro

Criminal Justice Civil Society Program


Montenegro is a Western-oriented, emerging democracy, but still struggles with public corruption and a lack of public trust in the judicial system. While there are some innovative and effective civil society organizations (CSOs) in the criminal justice sector, greater civic engagement in promoting reform in the sector is essential for real progress to be achieved and sustained. The program is especially timely because Montenegro is currently facing a key challenge in its progress to NATO and EU membership – that of transitioning to a more effective and transparent criminal justice system as envisaged under Chapters 23 and 24 of the Acquis Communautaire. EWMI’s Criminal Justice System Program in Montenegro (CJCSP) aims to increase citizens’ engagement in criminal justice reform efforts. Specifically, the program will increase civil society engagement in criminal justice reform efforts through watchdog and monitoring activities, advocacy and policy-making, research, and public education. The program’s activities will contribute to more transparent judicial proceedings, improved access to justice and quality of judicial proceedings, increased dialogue between civil society and justice institutions, increased government accountability and increased public confidence in the justice system.  

Working in a strategic partnership with World ORT, Inc. (ORT), a leader in civil society education and training, EWMI will provide grant funding and targeted technical assistance to selected CSOs, including groups working at the national level as well as regional and community-based organizations. EWMI will help civil society improve its ability to conduct monitoring, advocacy, policy development and public education related to the criminal justice sector. EWMI will help CSOs develop a more constructive, data-driven approach in promoting change within the system and will promote increased and more substantive dialogue between CSOs and government on criminal justice issues.  EWMI will award small and medium-sized grants to local partners to pursue criminal justice reform activities in the following three categories: 1) advocacy and policy development; 2) public education; and 3) watchdog activities. All three thematic categories are closely linked and contribute to the same ultimate goal of tangible, sustainable improvements in the administration of justice. The expected results and impact of the program include (i) the development by CSOs of criminal justice reform proposals and oversight/watchdog activities that result in an increase in the transparency of judicial operations and access to data, a greater degree of adoption and implementation of reform policies, and greater efficiency of judicial bodies, and (ii) the increased use of state-civil society dialogue mechanisms in the justice sector and a greater depth of engagement by CSOs in policy reform discussions; and the strengthened capacity of justice sector CSOs to monitor justice institutions, educate the public, conduct fact-based advocacy and policy development.  

The Criminal Justice Civil Society Program in Montenegro is an 18-month Cooperative Agreement with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the US Department of State.