Last Updated: Monday, 22 December 2014, 21:54 GMT

Freedom of the Press 2008 - Montenegro

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 29 April 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Montenegro, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f61ea.html [accessed 23 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 12 (of 30)
Political Environment: 16 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 10 (of 30)
Total Score: 38 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

The constitution and legislation provide for freedom of the press, although the UK-based media watchdog Article 19 expressed some concerns with the new constitution. Specifically, the constitution does not explicitly prohibit restrictions on freedom of expression, while the right of reply and the right to claim damages for inaccurate media reported are given constitutional status. The constitution also does not guarantee the right to access public information, although Montenegro does have legislation that provides for access to public information. Libel is punishable by fines of up to €14,000 (more for certain types of defamation), and lawsuits against journalists threaten to encourage self-censorship.

A lawsuit filed in September by the former president Milo Djukanovic against Zeljko Ivanovic, founder and director of the daily Vijesti, as well as the editor-in-chief and the newspaper's publishing company, was highly criticized by international media organizations. Djukanovic is seeking €1mn in damages for defamation stemming from comments Ivanovic made after he was attacked by unknown attackers. Ivanovic, believing his attack was related to his work, publicly blamed Djukanovic for creating an environment of impunity. The trial opened in December and was ongoing at the end of the year. The president of Podgorica's higher court filed libel charges against two different journalists, including a journalist for the weekly Monitor, Petar Komnenic and the editor-in-chief of Vijesti, Ljubisa Mitrovic. Both charges stemmed from reports alleging the court officials had ties to criminal activities. The 2004 murder of the opposition daily Dan editor, Dusko Jovanovic, was still unsolved, despite the 2006 controversial acquittal of the only person charged with the murder. In November, in Berane, a journalist and recently an editor in chief of public Radio Berane was attacked.

Both broadcast and print media are active and express diverse views. There are no restrictions on foreign news broadcasts. The members of the media watchdog Radio and Television Council (RTVCG) are appointed by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and professional groups. As happened in 2006, the parliament refused on two occasions to very some of the NGO appointments to the council. The parliament is meant only to verify the appointments and not make a choice for the appointments. The frequent failure to verify NGO nominations implies that the government was seeking to influence the council. The print media consisted of private newspapers and state-owned newspaper that has a national circulation. The privatization process for this newspaper was finally initiated in November when the government issued a tender for 51% of its shares. There are a number of privately owned radio and television stations in addition to the public broadcasters. The government does not restrict access to the Internet, which was used by an estimated 38% of the population last year.

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