The Human Rights Action and the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro welcome the fact that after a ten-year commitment to prescribing stronger criminal protection for journalists, such a proposal will be in the parliamentary procedure for the first time.
As announced at the meeting organized by Trade Union on Thursday, MP Marko Milačić submitted to the Parliament of Montenegro the Proposal of Amendments to the Criminal Code of Montenegro, which fully supports the proposals submitted by nine non-governmental organizations to the Government and the Parliament of Montenegro in June.
Action for Human Rights (HRA), Trade Union of Media of Montenegro, Association of Professional Journalists, Association of Journalists of Montenegro, Institute for Media of Montenegro, Civic Alliance, Center for Civic Education, NGO 35mm and Media Center, proposed prescribing new criminal offenses Prevention of journalists in the performance of professional tasks and Assault on a journalist in the performance of professional tasks and supplementing the criminal offenses of Serious bodily injury and Aggravated murder in relation to journalists as injured parties.
Milačić also accepted the proposal of the HRA and the Trade Union to prescribe for the needs of the CC the definition of a journalist used in the instruments of the Council of Europe, on the basis of which any person who is regularly or professionally engaged in collecting and disseminating information to the public using all means of mass communication. This definition therefore includes cameramen and other media workers, engaged in journalistic work.
The proposal for prescribing new criminal offenses Preventing Journalists in Performing Professional Tasks and Attacking Journalists in Performing Professional Tasks was made in 2010 and presented to the public by the HRA working group, which consisted of Judge Ana Vukovic and lawyers Veselin Radulovic, Tamara Durutovic, Dusan Stojkovic, Peter Noorlander and Tea Gorjanc Prelević, director of HRA. This proposal was later supplemented with proposals to increase the penalties for the criminal offenses of Aggravated Murder and Serious Bodily Injury against Journalists, as well as a proposal to amend the definition of the term journalist.
Since 2014, the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro, together with the HRA, has been advocating for these amendments to the Criminal Code. This year, seven more NGOs joined them.
The proposed amendments to the Criminal Code are based on the view that any attack on a journalist is absolutely unacceptable and poses a distinct social danger. Violence should not be used against journalists because they have different views and do journalistic work, and no matter how they do it.
Montenegro is still burdened by cases of unpunished attacks on journalists, and in the first half of this year, as many as 12 new cases of verbal and physical attacks, threats, insults and humiliation of journalists and media workers were recorded, most often while performing normal work tasks.
We are aware that attacks on journalists can only be suppressed by effective investigations in conjunction with severe penalties. We expect that the proposed amendments to the Criminal Code will be accepted as an expression of the majority will in the country that attacks on journalists must stop and that they will be punished in the same way as attacks on officials. We would also like to remind you that back in 2012, the OSCE and CEDEM public opinion polls showed that the majority of respondents supported the amendments to the Criminal Code in the direction of stricter punishment of attacks on journalists.
We expect this legislative activity to encourage the state prosecutor’s office to prosecute all unexplored and unsolved attacks, starting with the unsolved murder of Dusko Jovanovic.