Publication Date: June 2014
Publisher: Council of Europe
Research and Editorial Team: Nils Muiznieks

The Commissioner welcomes the decriminalisation of defamation and the strengthening of the legislative framework governing media. However, he remains worried by the series of acts of violence, including a murder, which has affected journalists’ freedom of expression and their “public watchdog” role which is valuable in every democratic society. He calls on the authorities to live up to their positive obligation to initiate prompt, thorough and transparent investigations into all cases of physical or verbal violence against journalists, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Sanctioning should reflect the seriousness of these offences and be dissuasive. The authorities are also urged to promptly conclude all the pending criminal cases relating to assaults on journalists, in particular those which will soon be subject to prescription. The Commissioner considers unacceptable the public use by certain leading politicians of inflammatory remarks, including personal insults, against journalists and their work. He stresses that such public discourse may lead to self-censorship and discourages journalists from performing their important service of imparting information and critically feeding open debates on issues of public interest. Lastly, the Commissioner considers it of the utmost importance that all media actors in the country initiate a deeper reflection and discussion on how to promote ethical journalism and overcome existing divisions in the media sector, including its self-regulation. The report contains the Commissioner’s conclusions and recommendations addressed to the authorities of Montenegro, and is published on the Commissioner’s website along with the authorities’ comments.

Tags: Defamation and Libel Violence_against_journalists Self-regulation Montenegro

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