Human Rights Action (HRA) urges the Commission for monitoring actions of the competent state authorities regarding the investigations of old and recent cases of intimidation and violence against journalists, murders of journalists and attacks on media property to publish a report on its operation and thus improve the transparency of its work. HRA expects that the Commission will present the results of its work, or the reasons for lack of them, within the official report on the first year of its operation. Given the importance of the task performed by the Commission and the public interest it protects, citizens deserve official information about its work, achievements or any possible obstructions it faces.
Since the establishment of the Commission in February last year (2014), only the first report on the work of the Commission from May 2014 is publically available on the Government’s official webpage. The decision on establishing the Commission envisages that it should submit reports on its work to the Government every four months. So far, a total number of three reports should have been submitted to the Government.
It’s been a year since the establishment of the Commission, and the media reported that in January 2015 the Government extended its mandate for another year.
The President of the Commission, Nikola Marković, said earlier that the Commission faces obstructions by the executive power, lack of political will to clarify the attacks, as well as institutional obstructions, which is reflected in the fact that the Commission has been denied access to relevant data. HRA believes that it is necessary to discuss this issue at a meeting of the Commission and that the findings after the first year of its work should be published in the form of an official report. HRA reminds that the Commission consists of journalists i.e. a journalist who is a representative of the NGO sector, and of other representatives of state authorities – the police, the State Prosecutor’s Office and the National Security Agency.
HRA has been advocating for prosecution of all cases of attacks on journalists in order to combat impunity and provide an atmosphere which is necessary for enjoyment of human right to freedom of expression and information in Montenegro. HRA published in January 2014 its report “Prosecution of Attacks on Journalists in Montenegro”, which was distributed to all members of the Commission, and in which all available data on 30 cases of various attacks, out of which 2/3 were not resolved, were included.
In the meantime concrete results were achieved in two cases: a first instance judgment in the case of attack on Lidija Nikčević has been rendered, and two alleged perpetrators who planted explosives to the building if daily Vijesti in December 2013 have been charged, where the trial is still in progress. It should be taken into account that two members of the Commission – daily Vijesti journalist Mila Radulović and editor in chief of daily Vijesti Mihailo Jovović – expressed their doubt that the real perpetrators were found.
Despite certain indications that progress may be achieved in the case of attack on Tufik Softić in 2007 (one of two attacks on him), no one has been charged in this case so far.