Human Rights Action (HRA) condemns last week’s demolition of vehicle of daily Dnevne novine correspondent from Bar, Alma Ljuca. This is the second attack on daily Dnevne novine correspondent’s property within a month, i.e. third attack on a journalist’s property (vehicle of daily Dan correspondent was damaged in May). Since the beginning of 2015, according to the Police Directorate’s press release, three other cases of attacks on journalists (endangering safety, dissemination of information about private and family life) have been reported, which unfortunately continues the trend from 2014, when 10 similar cases were reported to the police.
The attack is particularly worrying bearing in mind that journalist Ljuca recently reported on the misuse of funds for housing solidarity construction and departure of Montenegrin citizens to the war in Syria, which are certainly topics of public interest, and which provoked tensions earlier.
Bearing in mind that the majority of journalists (83%) stated that in order to promote freedom of the media in Montenegro it would be important to amend the law in such a manner as to treat attack on journalists as assaulting a public official performing official duties (according to CEDEM survey from 2011), HRA urges the Government and MPs to propose to the Parliament of Montenegro amendments to the Criminal Code prescribing new criminal offenses: “Obstructing journalists in performing their professional duties” and “Assaulting journalists in performing their professional duties”.
In this context, amendments to the Criminal Code would express social awareness of the fact that attacks on journalists are an especially socially dangerous and unacceptable phenomenon, and the state prosecution and police would be additionally obliged to investigate and prosecute attacks on journalists ex officio.
HRA earlier prepared drafts of such amendments to the Criminal Code available here and presented them to the political party representatives together with the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro.