Warning to executors of smear campaigns against critics of government

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) informs the public that the Basic Court in Nikšić brought the judgement ordering Goran Popović, deputy editor-in-chief of Dnevne novine, to pay an amount of EUR 2,000 as a non-pecuniary damage for violation of a person’s rights – honor, reputation and dignity, to Daliborka Uljarević, CCE’s Executive Director, with accompanying court costs. The judgement refers to the text published by Popović on 12 June 2018, titled ‘Dump journalism of Daliborka Uljarević’.

This text was one in the series, although undoubtedly one of the most disgusting one, within months-long intense campaign conducted last year against the CCE and Daliborka Uljarević, which was personally exposed to media lynch in pro-government media. Prominent role in this campaign, along with his obscene pieces of work, was played by Popović, whom the court found to have outlined number of false, malicious and offensive constructions in the text that was a matter of this process, and with clear intention to damage Uljarević’s reputation. Over 600 negative reports against the CCE and Daliborka Uljarević were publicized by pro-government media just during the most intense period of last year’s campaign.

This first instance verdict may mark a step forward in what should be the practice of protecting fighters for better and more just society, which in the Montenegrin context are constantly under pressure and attack by various levers of authorities. However, the lawyer of Daliborka Uljarević will appeal to this judgement because he believes the claim should have been fully upheld. The claim included EUR 5,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage, with the defendant’s obligation to publish the judgement in Dnevne novine, and which justifies the gravity of the violation.

It is also important to recall that this text specifically targeted one of the CCE’s projects ‘Facts do matter! Objective and innovative journalism for the EU’, implemented by the CCE with the support of the EU Delegation to Montenegro. Again, through this court process, it has been proven that all the negative allegations regarding this project were untrue. Therefore, this judgement becomes one in the series of court rulings that undermines all the impropriety of last year’s campaign against the CCE, the RTCG, the then leaders of the RTCG and Daliborka Uljarević. Earlier, final court judgements proved that the dismissals of RTCG Director Deneral, Andrija Kadija, TV CG Director Vladan Mićunović and editor of the first programme TVCG Aleksandar Mirković were illegal.

The CCE will continue to fight for the democratization and Europeanization of Montenegrin society through its work. This includes numerous efforts in the area of ​​freedom of expression and in particular the empowerment of professional journalism in Montenegro. Moreover, the CCE will also appeal to self-regulatory bodies and courts in the direction of rights guaranteed by the Constitution, laws and the Code of Ethics of Journalists of Montenegro.

Milos Knezević, PR / Programme Associate