Human Rights Action (HRA) condemns recent threats against journalist Siniša Luković from the daily newspaper Vijesti, as well as threatening journalists in principle. Journalists must be free to do their job of informing the society and without their safety being compromised. These have been the 10th threats reported by journalists in Montenegro since January 2014. According to HRA information, additional five journalists received threats that have not been reported.
HRA is concerned about the decision of the deputy Basic State Prosecutor in Kotor to qualify threats to journalist Luković as a misdemeanor and not as a criminal offense Endangering security, because the more lenient qualification does not match the social need to combat threats to journalists for carrying out their work. With such qualification the State Prosecution Office communicates the opinion of the state that threats to journalists are not an occurrence of special social significance. Also because of such tendency, HRA advocates for adding specific criminal offences to the Criminal Code, which would provide adequate deterrence and stricter punishment of those who threaten or attack journalists or in other ways prevent their work.
In this case it is not disputed that the journalist Luković was threatened for performing his journalistic work, i.e. reporting about the person who threatened him and that the journalist felt threatened because of this. In the criminal charge (in which HRA had insight) submitted by the journalist’s wife, it is stated that B.M. threatened him in front of his wife and minor children saying: “Siniša does not know what awaits him … something nice, very nice”, because Luković reported about the incident at a polling station mentioning that the participant in the incident was formerly convicted for a criminal offence.
According to the Criminal Code Commentary, for the existence of the criminal act Endangering Security of Article 168 of the Criminal Code “it is of no importance whether one really had intention to carry out the threat. The act is finished when the threat realized a feeling of endangerment to the person who is threatened, when there is a fear of his life or physical integrity, or the physical integrity or the life of close relatives”. In this case, the injured party confirmed to had felt threatened.
Luković is a journalist who, among other things, reports about corruption and organized crime, and who was threatened in the past. The person who threatened him was convicted in the first instance. Now he was threatened by a man who, according to allegations in the criminal charge, did not contest the fact that he was sentenced for a criminal offense.
We expect the Supreme State Prosecutor Mr. Ivica Stanković to reconsider the decision of the deputy Basic State Prosecutor Mrs. Čolan Deletić to qualify the threat in this case as a misdemeanor and to ensure that both in this, as well as in all similar cases, threats against journalists are qualified as criminal offenses.