Belgium’s magazine Le Vif: ,,Coronavirus: Montenegro published the names and addresses of people suspected of being infected”
By abusing Criminal law, the state violates the freedom of expression


Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

We call on you to postpone public consultations on amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information, which foresee numerous restrictions on the work of investigative journalists and NGO sector, until the end of the epidemic.

In a situation where the peak of the coronavirus epidemic is expected and in the atmosphere of uncertainty, it is necessary, more than ever, for citizens to have full trust in the institutions of the state, while fake news can leave enormous consequences. Therefore, we expected that the Government would work on increasing the openness of institutions, in cooperation with the media and NGO sector, instead of creating conditions in such situation to withhold even more information.

The decision of the Ministry to put the Law on Free Access to Information up for discussion right now does not contribute to the trust of citizens in the work of the Government. The law has been sharply criticized by journalists, non-governmental activists and foreign experts, while the European Commission has repeatedly pointed to the poor legal framework and even worse practice of institutions. We noted that the Ministry of Public Administration on Friday extended the deadline for submitting comments until April 13, and announced that it would organize a discussion via video conference afterwards.

We would like to remind you that at this moment there is a strong need for accurate and verified information in order to avoid a flood of fake news. This will not be possible if institutions continue to withhold information, and in particular, if they are provided with the legal basis that will exist if such law is adopted.

Namely, this version of amendments to the law also contains numerous norms which, contrary to the Constitution and standards, narrow the rights of citizens to information held by state bodies, and in particular restricts the work of investigative journalists and NGO sector.

Although we can send more specific comments by April 13, we do not think that it is appropriate to organise consultation on such important issues by video link in such situation when even the Parliament does not hold sessions, thus we once again urge that the whole matter be postponed until the situation returns to normal.

The proposed amendments allow institutions to withhold even more information than before, while in the eve of elections, political parties are abolished from the obligation to publish information on all finances. It is not prescribed what can be considered trade or tax secrets, and under what conditions information exchanged with other countries or international organizations can be hidden. At the same time, courts and prosecutor’s offices are allowed to withhold all information about court proceedings and investigations.

However, now when the epidemic is officially declared, while citizens are locked in their homes, and after numerous restrictions on movement and gatherings are introduced, there are no elementary conditions for holding a meaningful public debate on the issue. The debate on the Law at the time of the epidemic is by no means fitting into the dialogue that you have started within the Alliance for Europe, and it completely refutes everything that is presented as the aim of the initiative.

We hope that the decision to hold public consultations on the citizens’ constitutional right to access information during the epidemic has been taken in haste, and therefore we urge you to hold an adequate public debate on this Law only after citizens are allowed to attend public meetings.

The undersigned NGOs, media editors and journalists:

NGO The Network for Affirmation of NGO Sector – MANS

NGO Human Rights Action – HRA

NGO Institute Alternative – IA

NGO The Centre for Monitoring and Research – CEMI

NGO Center for Civil Liberties – CEGAS

NGO Center for Democratic Transition – CDT

Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro – CIN-CG

NGO Centre for Democracy and Human Rights – CEDEM

NGO 35 mm

Crime and corruption reporting network – LUPA

NGO Center for Protection and Research of Birds – CZIP

NGO Green Home

NGO Expeditio

NGO Media Centre

NGO Young Roma

NGO European Association for Law and Finance (EALF)


Committee of Young Lawyers of Montenegro

Montenegrin Youth Initiative

Youth Workers Alliance Montenegro

Montenegrin Debate Union

NGO Women’s Safe House – SŽK

NGO Montenegrin Ecologists Society – CDE

Roma Youth Organization “Walk with us – Phiren Amenca”

NGO Our Action

Organisation KOD

Politikon Network

Association of Paraplegics Podgorica

NGO Eco Team

NGO Centre for Entrepreneurship

Association of Paraplegics Bijelo Polje and Mojkovac

Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro

Committee of Lawyers for the Protection of Human Rights of Montenegro (CKZP)

NGO Association for Civil Society Development Bijelo Polje

NGO Institute for Business and Financial Literacy

Dr Martin Schneider – Jacoby Association MSJA

NGO Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro – UMHCG

NGO Anima

NGO Workers from Bankrupt Companies in Montenegro

Foundation “HELP – Action for North of Montenegro”

NGO Hope Herceg Novi


Network for education and development of support services for persons with disabilities – MERSP


Hand of Friendship Foundation

NGO Pandora, Herceg Novi

NGO Identity

Editors and journalists

Tatjana Ašanin, editor, TV Vijesti

Nikola Marković, editor, DAN

Marijana Bojanić, director,TV Vijesti

Tina Popović, editor, ID Vijesti

Mihailo Jovović, programme editor, ID Vijesti

Srdan Kosović, editor, ID Vijesti

Marko Vešović, journalist, DAN

Milka Tadić Mijović, director, CIN-CG

Goran Kapor, journalist, ID Vijesti

Damira Kalač, journalist, ID Vijesti

Danilo Ajković, journalist, TV Vijesti

Jelena Jovanović, journalist, ID Vijesti

Milica Krgović, journalist, DAN

Vuk Lajović, journalist, ID Vijesti

Darko Ivanović, journalist

Svetlana Đokić, journalist, TV Vijesti

Danijela Lasica, journalist, TV Vijesti

Siniša Luković, journalist, ID Vijesti

Draško Milačić, journalist, DAN

Milorad Milošević, journalist, ID Vijesti

Marija Mirjačić, journalist, ID Vijesti

Ana Ostojić, journalist, DAN

Vladimir Otašević, journalist, DAN

Miloš Rudović, journalist, ID Vijesti

Majda Šabotić, journalist, TV Vijesti

Duško Vuković, journalist

Dobrila Plamenac Vuković, editor in chief, PCNEN

Tijana Pravilović, journalist, TV Vijesti

Milena Perović Korać, journalist, Monitor

Bojana Bojović Golijanin, journalist, TV Vjesti

Mileva Kostić, journalist, TV Vijesti