Civic Alliance Demands Improvements of e-Petitions Project1. November 2012 - 12:42 — Dejan Georgievski
The Civic Alliance of Montenegro (CA) presented the Prime Minister of Montenegro Igor Lukšić, in an open letter of October 30, 2012, with a list of problems in the implementation of the e-petition project „Voice of the citizens“, identified in the monitoring of the project it implemented with several partner organisations.
The Civic Alliance repeated its view that the census of 6000 signatures for an e-petition to be accepted is set too high and doesn't correspond to the levels of computer literacy and internet penetration in Montenegro (at 53.2 and 49.9 percent, respectively, according to the 2011 official statistics). The Civic Alliance and its partners believe that such a high census is a limiting factor for the practical application of e-petitions in the country.
The Civic Alliance also noted the problems of short time limits – the signatures have to be collected within two months from the day a petition is accepted, and the fact that the platform is available only in Montenegrin language, without possibility to sign the petitions in Albanian and Roma languages.
„It could be seen as discrimination of minorities. The petitions have to be equally accessible to all citizens of Montenegro and the existing practice sends a wrong message and distances some segments of society from what we call the democratic participation of all citizens“, says the open letter signed by Edin Koljenović, CA coordinator of good governance project, on the behalf of the Civic Alliance.
Other identified problems and outstanding issues refer to the expressed fear by many individuals interviewed by CA during the monitoring that their personal data, submitted when signing a petition, may be abused, the bad software sollution, overtly complicated process and the amount of required data, as well as the limited length of the description of the petition to just 1,000 characters which is seen as too little space to properly describe a serious petition.
The Civic Alliance makes special note of inability to use petitions to address the local self-governments, due to division of competences between local and national levels of government, which significantly limits the number of areas that can be reviewed through the platform.
CA expressed its satisfaction that the Government recognized the importance of electronic petitions for e-democracy in Montenegro and their potential for establishment of better communication between citizens and their elected representatives.
„Electronic democracy is not some future state, but is rather a contemporary democracy with contributions bz people who use ICTs as a tool for their participation in democratic life“, the Civic Alliance saya and demands from the Government to take into serious consideration the suggestions of the civil society organisations to avoid a situation in which the project would fail because no petition will ever make it to the Government to decide on it, for which the Government will be held responsible.
CA implemented the monitoring of the implementation of the Agreement for realisation of the project in cooperation with OZON environmental NGO frrom Nikšić, MogUL NGO from Ulcinj and NEED NGO from Bijelo Polje. (Source: Civic Alliance)