4/3/2019 First instance judgment – Goran Đurović illegally dismissed of membership in the Council of Radio Television of Montenegro

21/2/2019 On the occasion of the public debate on the Draft amendments to the Law on National Service Broadcaster Radio and Television of Montenegro (RTCG)
20/02/2019

4/3/2019 First instance judgment – Goran Đurović illegally dismissed of membership in the Council of Radio Television of Montenegro

The Basic Court in Podgorica, by judge Radovan Vlaović, found that the Montenegrin Parliament illegally dismissed NGO representative Goran Đurovic of membership in the Council of Radio Television of Montenegro (RTCG) and annulled the Parliament’s decision on his dismissal. The Court found for the purpose of Đurović’s dismissal the Parliament arbitrarily applied the Law on Prevention of Corruption in place of a special law – the Law on Public Broadcasting Services of Montenegro, which was the only one prescribing reasons for dismissal of members of the RTCG Council.

The Court found that the mandate of a member of the Council could have been terminated only in the procedure prescribed by the Law on Public Broadcasting Services of Montenegro, which determined in a narrower way, from the Law on Prevention of Corruption, what constitutes a conflict of interest that may lead to dismissal of a member of the RTCG Council.

While the Law on Public Broadcasting Services of Montenegro, a lex specialis for the appointment and dismissal of members of the RTCG Council listed reasons for dismissal, the reason for dismissal of Djurovic cited by the Parliament of Montenegro had not been prescribed as a reason under that Law. Thus, the judgment stated that Djurovic, a public official at the time, performed the function of executive director in his agricultural company that was compatible with the function he performed in the RTCG Council, and that he had not been in a situation involving conflict of interest.

In July 2018, Đurovic also filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights, requesting determination that Montenegro had violated his right to freedom of expression, as well as the rights to an effective remedy, fair trial and prohibition of discrimination.

Đurovic is represented by Attorney-at-Law Dalibor Tomović in cooperation with NGO Human Rights Action (HRA) from Podgorica, thanks to the support of the Media Legal Defense Initiative (MLDI) from London.

Dalibor Tomović, lawyer: I welcome the judgment of the Basic Court in Podgorica, which found that the decision of the Parliament of Montenegro on the dismissal of Goran Djurović from the RTCG Council was unlawful. The court accepted our argument and found that Djurovic was not in conflict of interest because he did not violate the provisions of the Law on Public Broadcasting Services of Montenegro, by which he could only be dismissed. Although the decision came with a delay, it proves that the court is nevertheless competent to control the decisions of the Parliament. I expect from the High Court to confirm this judgment.

Tea Gorjanc Prelevic, HRA executive director: The decision of judge Vlaović is really encouraging. However, one must not  forget that Montenegro neither in this case nor in general provides for effective legal protection against arbitrary decisions of the Parliament of Montenegro on dismissal and appointment of members of the RTCG Council and the Agency for Electronic Media. Let us recall that Đurovic was dismissed 26 months ago (on 29 December 2017), a new member was subsequently appointed a year ago (on 9 March 2018), while the first instance judgment was reached only today. An effective protection would provide for the legality of the dismissal to be examined before the new member replaces the dismissed one. Judge Vlaović did try to provide for such protection by granting injuction returning Đurovic to his post, but this had been annulled by the Council of the Basic Court in Podgorica. Now we are left to post factum confront the politically motivated Blitzkrieg against NGO representatives in the RTCG Council, which in the meantime already destroyed independence of the public broadcaster.