State is obliged to ensure the development of media freedoms

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) congratulates 3 May – World Press Freedom Day – to all media and media practitioners in Montenegro, though unfortunately they have no reason to celebrate it this year either. On the other side, this is a chance to indicate on difficult environment in which Montenegrin media work and operate, as well as on the fact that media freedoms have been downgraded on every ground, which has a limiting effect on the overall democratisation of society.

Role of media in the development of democratic society is immeasurable. However, in order for media to achieve their role, the state must ensure an ambient where journalists can work free, without any pressure and fear of aftermath of their work. Lack of progress in this respect is evidenced by numerous challenges which encumber media scene in Montenegro, to which CCE has been indicating for years, and which remain without the adequate reaction from competent state bodies, thereby without the solution. Political pressures, inadequate legislative framework, numerous unresolved cases of assault on journalists, media and their property, which investigation and processing is not in the interest of the state, uninspiring financial framework and opaque allocations from public funds which directly affect the media market, are just some of the causes of deep division on media scene and decrease of quality of media reporting. Media cannot exercise their role of watchdog over political officials in such surrounding, or inform the citizens of Montenegro in an objective, timely and professional manner.

In a recently published Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters without borders, Montenegro was ranked at 106 place, out of 180 countries. In addition, according to Freedom House report, Montenegro is marked as partially free for the work of media. Furthermore, European Commission stated clear and warning recommendations in last year’s Country Report on Montenegro which relate to improvement of condition in the area of media and provision of equal chances, which were completely neglected.

CCE will continue to fight for free and independent media through its programme activities, primarily by insisting on the change of obsolete legislative framework in order to ensure equal chances of work, which involves the contribution to identification and prevention of pressure and inappropriate influences of government on the editorial policy and reporting of media through selective and opaque financing.

World Press Freedom Day is celebrated on May 3, based on the decision of UN General Assembly, in order to improve the awareness on the importance of freedom of press and to remind the governments of states that it is their duty to respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression, guaranteed under the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Ana Nenezić, programme coordinator