Impunity for attacks on journalists makes journalists desirable targets

On the occasion of 2 November – International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) reiterates its call on the competent institutions to provide basic working conditions for journalists and political decision-makers not to exacerbate tensions that further complicate the position of journalists in Montenegro. The CCE also points out that the relevant Ministry has not proven its rhetorical commitment to this issue in practice.

CCE reminds that the largest number of cases of attacks on journalists and media property in Montenegro, from 2004 to the end of 2021, never got an appropriate epilogue. It is also worrying that the intensity of attacks on journalists and journalist crews increased in 2021Jelena Jovanović (March 2021), Sead Sadiković (March 2021), Esad Kočan (March 2021), TV Vijesti crew (April 2021), TV Budva crew (April 2021), Nebojša Šofranac (April 2021), Dragan Bursać (May 2021), Darko Šuković (May 2021), Slavica Kruščić Vasović (June 2021), TV Cetinje crew (July 2021), Jelena Jovanović (July 2021), Milka Tadić Mijović (August 2021), TV Vijesti crew (August 2021), Tamara Nikčević (August 2021), Tanja Šuković (September 2021), TV N1 crew (September 2021), Mirka Dević (October 2021).

The latest European Commission Report for Montenegro states that progress in freedom of expression is “still very limited” and that the recommendations from last year were only partially addressed, although the Government announced that it would position this issue as its priority. It is also emphasized that the most serious cases of attacks on journalists, such as the murder of the editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper “Dan”, remain without an adequate and complete answer.

The sharp division of Montenegrin society is also reflected in the media scene, which has become a hostage of interest groups. Such an environment is not conducive to independent and professional reporting, but it is often conducive to attacks on the media and media representatives. Without the protection of journalists, there is no functional rule of law that must be the priority of every government. At the same time, it is the role of both journalists and the media to raise their voice against such an environment, and to show solidarity regardless of whether the endangered colleague comes from a media that is ideologically close to them or not. Free and professional media are an important actor in building and defending a democratic political culture, with a note that the Code of Journalists must be a guide to reporting in the public interest.

The CCE will continue to remind on all cases of attacks on journalists until they are resolved. On the wave of promises that, among other things, they will deal with these cases as well, the new majority received the support needed for the election victory. So far, the promises in that part have not been fulfilled. Therefore, the CCE calls on the relevant Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media, the Police Directorate and the Prosecutor’s Office to make more efforts to protect the free speech and integrity of all journalists in Montenegro.

Damir NIKOČEVIĆ, Development Coordinator