The NGO Human Rights Action (HRA) believes that the Draft amendments to the Law on National Service Broadcaster of the RTCG propose to seize RTCG’s independence, not in line with European standards. In the comments submitted to the Ministry of Culture, HRA supported the proposal of the experts, engaged by the Council of Europe, Eva Solomon and Tanja Kerševan Smokvina, to keep the existing law in force until a new draft is harmonised with European standards, towards which fulfilment Montenegro is striving.
HRA considers that three proposals in the Draft Law particularly jeopardise the independence of the RTCG:
HRA also warns of the potentially damaging intention of the draft-law’s proposers to narrow the circle of people who could contribute to the public interest of Montenegro through the national broadcaster only to those of Montenegrin citizenship (Article 25 – the election of a member of the Council, Article 48d – member of the Managing Board of the RTCG, Article 49 – the election of the Director General of the RTCG, Article 50 – the selection of the director of the RTCG and Article 53a – the election of the Ombudsman RTCG). Montenegro is a very small state. With its 622,000 inhabitants, Montenegro is 40th out of 47 member states of the Council of Europe by number of inhabitants. Each member state has one national public service – radio and television, including Russia with over one hundred forty-four million inhabitants. The government should take into consideration that a small country inevitably has a much smaller selection of experts with citizenship that can contribute to an independent and professional working of the public service and who are interested to deal with it. Accordingly, the choice of officials in the public service should not be conditional on citizenship, which in itself does not represent a guarantee of quality and commitment to the general interest of public information in accordance with international standards.
Finally, HRA believes that an amendment of the current law on RTCG is necessary, which is not proposed, and that is prescribing urgent processing of the requests for protection of the rights of a candidate for membership of the RTCG Council, or a member of the RTCG Council dismissed of function, including that final decision is made before the appointment of a member or his/her dismissal comes into force.
The experiences of Ms. Slavica Striković, who has been conducting proceedings for annulment of the decision on the election of her opponent to the RTCG Council since 2015, and Mr. Goran Djurović, who has been conducting proceedings for annulment of the decision on his illegal dismissal from the function of RTCG Council member since January 2018, show that Montenegro has no effective remedy against the illegal decision-making of the majority in the Parliament of Montenegro on the election and dismissal of members of the Council, which Goran Djurović also claims, among other things, before the European Court of Human Rights, in the proceedings where he is represented by HRA and the Media Legal Defense Initiative from London.