1/11/2018 On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists


1/11/2018 On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists

Montenegro is still under the shadow of unresolved murders and attempted murders, physical assaults, threats and attacks on media property. Human Rights Action (HRA) urges all who can to excerpt influence so that the perpetrators and those who ordered these crimes do not remain unpunished. Journalists are the voice of social conscience, guardians of democracy, our eyes and ears. The attack on them is an attack on freedom of expression. Freedom of expression of journalists in a state is a measure of freedom of all its citizens. All attacked journalists in Montenegro including the murdered Duško Jovanović wrote about organized crime and alleged links between top authorities and organized crime.

It is not normal that for the past fourteen years, the murder of Duško Jovanović, the editor-in-chief of daily Dan, remains unsolved, and murder of Srđan Vojičić for twelve years, who was killed while protecting writer Jevrem Brković. HRA believes that the investigation of Jovanović’s murder had not been effective (see report “Unsolved Murder of Duško Jovanovi ć , the Director and Editor -in- Chief of the Daily Dan –Unsolved Murder of Duško Jovanovi ć , the Director and Editor -in- Chief of the Daily Dan – Questions without Answers“), that the state violated the obligation to conduct an effective investigation and, therefore, HRA continues to appeal to the authorities to engage a foreign independent expert to review the investigation and propose further steps.

It is not normal that nearly six months after the last attack on Olivera Lakić, there is no progress in the investigation, especially as it was never resolved who and why ordered the previous attacks on her and her family. More detailed information on the abnormally processed previous cases is available in HRA reports.

Despite the fact that the regular courts and the Constitutional Court unequivocally found that the state authorities did not effectively investigate the attempted murder of journalist Tufik Softić, attackers on him, as well as the perpetrators of both attacks are still not disclosed. It’s not normal either and cannot become normal, because the state has an obligation to respect human rights.

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 even been documented by a video recording. It is also not normal that not one attack on Raičević has been effectively investigated to date, nor that no one has been charged for any of these attacks to date, and even that no one bore any responsibility. We think that sooner or later, the court will legally determine the State’s responsibility for omissions in conduct of investigations in these cases.

HRA hopes that the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations will persevere in advocating for the protection of human rights of journalists in relation to the authorities in Montenegro. We also hope that persons willing to provide information will appear and assist in identification of perpetrators as well as those who stand behind them.

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On 20 September 2018 the president of Montenegro Milo Đukanovic stated that it is normal that for almost five months there has been no progress in the investigation into the attempted murder of journalist Olivera Lakic. He said that such a situation is “not desirable,” but that it is “normal” in all countries in the region, including EU member states: “We could also take a little look at the experiences of the countries of the European Union, which, as you know, have been the subject of serious European public attention, and they are not threatening to lose the status of EU member states,” Djukanovic said, answering TV “Vijesti” after the conference in Podgorica’s Hilton hotel (http://www.vijesti.me/vijesti/dukanovic-normalno-da-nema-pomaka-u-istrazi-pokusaja-ubistva-olivere-lakic-1005015).

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.