On the occasion of 2 November – International day to end impunity for crimes against journalists, Centre for Civic Education (CCE), urges the competent institutions to intensify efforts to resolve and prosecute attacks on journalists and to put this issue at the top of their agenda.
The consequences of the attack on journalists affect journalists on daily basis, but also society at large. The burden of an insecure environment, with the financial erosion of media market, and poor economic status of journalists limit the ability to build the capacity of new generations of investigative journalists that will deal with sensitive issues, and thereby question the holders of power that this power abuse.
Since the murder of the CeO and Editor-in-chief of daily Dan, Dusko Jovanovic, 85 attacks on journalists and media assets have been recorded to date, leaving most of these cases inadequately investigated and prosecuted. It is particularly worrying that, despite loud promises made by authorities, interest of European Union institutions and other international actors, the latest assault on Olivera Lakic, journalist of Vijesti, from May 2018, to this day remains unrevealed.
We recently had the opportunity to hear acknowledgement of top officials of Government of Montenegro that the cases of murder of Jovanovic and attack on journalist of weekly Monitor, Tufik Softic, will never be fully revealed due to internal misconducts in investigations. It is not known to the public that anyone was responsible for such misconducts, as it is practice in developed democratic countries, which is further discouraging for improvement of media environment and safety of journalists.
Resolving cases of attacks on journalists and media assets is not only important because of reports of European Commission, State Department, Freedom House, Reporters without Borders, etc. but because of democratization of Montenegrin society, which, even 13 years after the renewal of independence, failed to provide the necessary level of freedom of expression and freedom of media, but has been declining in all rankings measuring this area. The Government of Montenegro, through the work of the Police administration, has a responsibility to provide journalists with personal security in conducting their work, especially when it comes to those involved in investigative journalism. However, the responsibility of the Prosecution and the judiciary to process these cases effectively, which has so far been missing, should also be emphasized.
The CCE will continue to remind of restrictions on media freedom and to advocate for fact-finding and accountability. The CCE will be an ally to all those from the institutions who do their job in prosecuting attacks on journalists and media assets, but also critic to those who continue to avoid that obligation.
Damir NIKOCEVIC, Development Coordinator