Attacks on journalists represent the weakness of the state and its institutions

Centre for Civic Education CCE) strongly condemns the attack on the journalist of the daily “Vijesti” and the weekly “Monitor” Tufik Softić and calls on the authorities to promptly and efficiently carry out an investigation that would reveal perpetrators and persons who ordered this perfidious act which was a direct threat not only to Softić, but also to his family, and to all free thinking journalists in Montenegro.

Namely, last night, around 10 p.m. so far unknown persons threw an explosive device near Softić’s vehicle, which was parked in the backyard of his home. In that moment, Softić was at home with his wife and children. Softić has been a target of the attack also six years ago, when he was in front of his house brutally beaten and till today the case was not investigated to the end and thus practically relevant state authorities gave encouragement for a new attack on this journalist. Even before the attack, Softić was receiving threats because of his writings about crime and criminal groups in the north of Montenegro.

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression Frank La Rue, in the report following his visit to Montenegro in June this year, stressed that the biggest problem in Montenegro when it comes to freedom of expression remain many unresolved cases of attacks on journalists. The High Representative of the European Commission, Dirk Lange, in July, underlined that media freedom is one of the key pillars of democracy and a fundamental right protected under European and international agreements, and stated that the EC will not accept any deviation from these standards by countries aspiring to join the EU.

State of Montenegro must show visible and convincing results in investigations on a number of unsolved attacks on journalists who were addressing in their work biggest obstacles of Montenegro on the road to the EU, such as corruption and organized crime and the criminal milieu relations with political decision-makers. Otherwise, the competent institutions send a message that the journalists who tackle these issues, for many unpleasant but from the standpoint of the public interest necessary, are legitimate targets thus showing its weakness and lack of political will and capacity to protect journalists, which is unacceptable. The impunity of crimes against journalists and freedom of expression in general is a great obstacle to further development of research and professional journalism in Montenegro, and certainly contrary to the public interest. Without free, independent and critical-minded media no society can be neither democratic nor can progress on its path towards the EU.

CCE appeals also on media community to be united in condemnation of this attack and so in that part overcome its current divisions, because this is both the attack on the colleague journalist and attack on the profession itself.

Petar Đukanović, Programme Coordinator