22/10/2017 Determining Accountability for Breach of Judicial Ethics in Montenegro (Operation of the Commission on the Code of Judicial Ethics 2011-2016)


On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, Human Rights Action (HRA) reminds of the most serious crimes against journalists in Montenegro, which to date have not been effectively investigated and punished. HRA urges all who can to excerpt influence so that the perpetrators and those who ordered these crimes do not remain unpunished. HRA recalls that all murdered and attacked journalists and writer Brković wrote about organized crime and alleged links between top authorities and organized crime in Montenegro.

Murder of Duško Jovanović, editor in chief of daily Dan, remains unsolved for 13 years, and murder of Srđan Vojičić, who was killed while protecting writer Jevrem Brković, who was targeted by physical assault, had not been solved for 11 years.

In the report ““Unsolved Murder of Duško Jovanović, Director and Editor-in Chief of Daily Dan – Questions Without Answers”, published last year on the occasion of twelve years of the assassination, HRA concluded that the investigation had not been effective, that many questions remained unanswered and appealed to the authorities to engage a foreign expert to review the investigation, but this was not done to date.

Although ten years passed since the attempted murder of journalist Tufik Softić (1 November 2007 – 2 November 2017), perpetrators and person who ordered the crime have still not been found. The investigation of the attack on Softić in 2007 was suspended and the Basic Court in Podgorica recently (on 20 October 2017) found that the state violated his human rights because the attack had not been effectively investigated. In its first-instance verdict, the Court found that the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office and the Police did not undertake investigative measures at the level of the minimum European standard, in particular, that the pre-investigative period lasted for almost seven years, of which no action whatsoever had been taken for five years and six months. Once opened, the investigation had been closed after one year and three months. The state prosecutor has heard the victim only seven years after the crime occurred. Also, out of the three persons the victim reported as those who threatened him, the state prosecutor heard two of them after seven years elapsed from the crime and one was never heard at all. The DNA analysis of traces from the baseball bat, the suspected weapon, was done only six years after the bat had been found and the analysis did not include the DNA sample of one of the suspects.

Investigation of the second attack on Softić, the activation of an explosive device in front of his house in 2013 was not officially suspended, but Softić had not been informed that any new actions were taken in that investigation. Limitation of criminal prosecution expires on 11 August 2018.

Previously, the investigation of physical attacks on journalists Mladen Stojović (from 2008) had been suspended without results, beating of director of Vijesti, Željko Ivanović, (2007) had not been prosecuted convincingly, perpetrators of burning three cars of daily Vijesti (from 2011 and 2014) had not been detected, and death threats to journalist of daily Vijesti Olivera Lakić had not been punished.

During the protests in October 2015, several physical assaults on journalists have been recorded, one of which, from a total of three attacks of police officers on the editor of portal IN4S, Gojko Raičević, had been documented by video recording. None of the attacks on Raičević was investigated to date.

Last year on the International Day for the End of Impunity of Crimes Against Journalists, HRA published the report “Prosecution of attacks on journalists in Montenegro”, which presents 55 attacks on journalists in Montenegro and their processing since 2004. Until then, 1/3 of these attacks were resolved. Today, a year later, the situation is unchanged.

Unfortunately, the last year’s statement of the HRA executive director Tea Gorjanc-Prelević still remains relevant:

 “So far, unfortunately, the Euro-Atlantic integration of Montenegro has not led to progress in investigations of the most serious cases of murders and attacks on journalists and those unresolved attacks have become a feature of the state system. Due to the unwillingness of the State Prosecutor’s Office to review ineffective investigations, the burden of great expectations is again placed on the newly established Commission for Monitoring the Investigation of Attacks on Journalists. “

The Commission for Monitoring the Investigation of Attacks on Journalists was formed on 23 September 2016. It has held 11 sessions to date, adopted two reports and submitted them to the Government of Montenegro, which acknowledged them in June 2017. To date, no Commission report has been revealed to the public.

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REMINDER (from the UN web site):

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the ‘International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists’ in General Assembly Resolution A/RES/68/163. The Resolution urged Member States to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity. The date was chosen in commemoration of the assassination of two French journalists in Mali on 2 November 2013.

This landmark resolution condemns all attacks and violence against journalists and media workers. It also urges Member States to do their utmost to prevent violence against journalists and media workers, to ensure accountability, bring to justice perpetrators of crimes against journalists and media workers, and ensure that victims have access to appropriate remedies. It further calls upon States to promote a safe and enabling environment for journalists to perform their work independently and without undue interference.