By abolishing the decision of the Supreme Court of Montenegro ordering the weekly Monitor and journalist Nikolaidis, author of the article “Executioner’s apprentice”, to pay the plaintiff Emir Kusturica 12,000 Euros in damages for injury to reputation and litigation costs, the Constitutional Court of Montenegro showed that it is capable of protecting the human right to freedom of expression by applying European standards. It should also be noted that this decision has been long due, adopted two years after the filing of the constitutional appeal.
Judge Slavka Vukčević rendered an excellent first instance decision in this case acquitting the defendants, citing the European standards that the Constitutional Court had referred to now, six years later. The High Court in Podgorica and the Supreme Court have subsequently passed the verdicts ordering the defendants to pay the damages, which was criticized by Human Rights Action because the judges of those courts ignored the standards of freedom of expression from the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. For example, the Supreme Court criticized Nikolaidis for offending Kusturica in his newspaper article using crude irony and sarcasm, although the European standard of freedom of expression protects provocation, exaggeration and even insulting if expressing value judgments on matters of public interest, especially as a response to provocation, such as the attitude of influential film director Kusturica in relation to the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Publication of provocative views regarding the performance of public figures deserves a response and public discussion, not the application of measures forcing critics alike to remain silent in future.
We hope that this decision will be a turning point in the practice of the Constitutional Court, which has generally been the dead end of the Montenegrin legal system so far.
Scanned judgments of ordinary courts in this case and previous Human Rights Action statements are available at: /?page_id=459