Human Rights Action welcomes the decision of the Parliament of Montenegro to delete the criminal acts of Defamation and Insult from the Criminal Code and congratulates all who have been advocating for it.
Such decision significantly improves the environment for freedom of expression, but also releases criminal courts from a significant number of cases, which in turn should contribute to their more effective prosecution of serious criminal offenses involving serious violations of human rights.
Decriminalization does not mean condoning deliberate false claims and insults or irresponsible reporting. For these harmful occurrences remains a remedy in civil action in the form of damages and publication of the verdict or a correction, or else that may serve to accomplish the purpose achieved by compensation.
However, it remains necessary to provide the implementation of the standards of the European Court of Human Rights in civil proceedings as well, in accordance with the recommendation of the European Commission. In this regard, the Human Rights Action continues to advocate for introduction of the standards of the European Court of Human Rights in the civil law, especially the Media Law, in relation to: 1) specifying due journalistic care, 2) limiting compensation for non-pecuniary damages for breach of honour and reputation, and 3) protection of privacy, as suggested in our Proposed Reform of Liability for Breach of Honour and Reputation in Montenegro.
We believe that the recently adopted position of the Supreme Court on the amount of non-pecuniary damages, which can be awarded for violation of honour and reputation is not specific enough and that it alone will not help secure practice of Courts in accordance with European standards (more detailed critique of the Supreme Court’s position is available at www.hraction. org).
We invite all interested in this topic to visit the web page of the Human Rights Action dedicated to freedom of expression (/?page_id=459) and find the guide of the Council of Europe for the application of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, translations of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights on freedom of expression, a collection of judgments of Montenegrin courts on liability for violation of honour and reputation, the Proposed Reform, and a collection of presentations and discussions from a regional meeting held last year in Podgorica on the reform of liability for defamation and insult.