Human Rights Action (HRA) welcomes the decision of MPs Mr. Rifat Rastoder, Mr. Dritan Abazović and Mr. Zoran Miljanić to propose amendments to the Media Act to the Assembly of Montenegro. Those amendments, among else, contain HRA proposals for the harmonization of the Media Act with the practice of the European Court of Human Rights. Some of these proposals HRA published already in 2010. In July 2015 HRA submitted an improved edition of proposed amendments to the Government (ministries of justice and culture), MPs and the media. High-quality debate of these proposals in the Assembly and, hopefully, their adoption, could be of great importance for Montenegro’s progress in the implementation of European human rights standards on freedom of expression and the right to privacy.
The proposal includes provisions introducing standard of due professional care of journalists and prescribes the basis for exclusion of liability for damages, specifies protection of privacy in the media, a right of correction and reply, and prescribes the right of journalists and editors to ethical conduct and protection from imposing views by editors and media owners.
On November 2010 HRA presented the first proposed amendments to the Media Act as a contribution to the efforts that the standards of the European Court for Human Rights be incorporated into law and thus enhance the practice of their application in Montenegro. This proposal was innovated in 2015 by HRA working group composed of Ms. Azra Jašavić, then MP, Ms. Draginja Vuksanovic, MP, Mr. Dragoljub Duško Vuković, journalist and media analyst, Mr. Goran Đurović, Chairman of the Committee of RTCG Council for Petitions and Complaints of Listeners and Viewers and Chairman of the Board of the Coalition of NGOs – Cooperation towards the goal, Ms. Jadranka Vojvodić, Deputy Director of the Agency for Electronic Media and Ms. Tea Gorjanc-Prelević, HRA executive director.
The solutions included in the draft law, which is now in the Assembly, HRA presented at a public meeting in July 2015. The discussion was attended by the Minister of Justice Mr. Zoran Pažin and Minister of Culture Mr. Pavle Goranović, who received the proposal in advance.
The Parliamentary Committee for Political System, Judiciary and Administration in December 2015 unanimously decided to accept the initiative of HRA and organize a consultative hearing – debate – on the need for amendments to the Media Act. This debate has not been held to date, despite reminders directed to the Committee by HRA.
Thanks to MPs Rastoder, Abazović and Miljanić, the Assembly will now discuss and decide on the proposed provisions rooted in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights. The same or similar legal provisions already exist in Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. The media laws in all these countries are more elaborate and recent than the Media Act of Montenegro which was adopted 14 years ago.
HRA worked on proposed amendments to the Media Act with the support of the Open Society Foundations and the Australian Embassy in Belgrade.