State should create conditions for the free work of media, and media should improve professional standards

On the ocassion of 3 May – World Press Freedom Day, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) emphasised that Montenegrin media face numerous obstacles and threats that affect their work significantly and adversely.

Freedom of media plays an important role in securing the sustainability of democracy, contributes to development of accountability and good governance. Limitations to freedom of media lead to erosion of system and functionality of democratic institutions. During recent years, Montenegro has rather modest results when it comes to ranking of states according to level of freedom of media in the world. Furthermore, the reports and resolutions of EU institutions are seriously concerned when it comes to freedom of media. Last report of State Department on the state of human rights indicated chilling effect on freedom of expression, created by constant assaults on journalists and failure to investigate them.

Slow, reluctant and ineffective investigations by the competent authorities, primarily by police and prosecution, concerning the attacks on journalists, as well as mild and inadequate penalty policy for rare processed perpetrators of attacks, failure and lack of political will to process those ordering attacks, and other widespread suptile but not less strong pressures on all of those who dare to speak in public interest, contrary to party interests, burden the work of media and freedom of expression, and consequently protection of fundamental rights and freedoms in Montenegro.

Nowadays, Montenegrin journalists work in humiliating conditions, without the adequate protection of labour rights, in fear from retaliation due to union organising, under the burden of influence from political and economic centres of power who control the content of media and restrain development of professional and investigatative journalism when it comes to reporting on corruption, violation of law and human rights.

Freedom of expression, which implies the freedom to disclose facts, critical views in relation to decision makers and point out to problem, is of key significance for democratisation and prosperity of each society. CCE urges the institutions to create conditions that would allow the media to perform their job without the fear from retaliation, in accordance with ethical and professional standards, as well as to establish the system of equal opportunities for all media on market, and to define transparent criteria of investment and aid to Montenegrin media from public funds. Without the functional freedom of media there can be no quality and objective informing of public nor citizens who are ready to actively participate in political life.

World Press Freedom Day – 3 May, is commemorated for the purpose of promoting and raising awareness on the significance of freedom and independence of media, as well as to remind states that their duty is to respect and support the right to freedom of expression.

Petar Đukanović, programme coordinator