Montenegro | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Montenegro

Montenegro

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

38

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

16

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

10

The constitution and legislation generally provide for freedom of the press in Montenegro. Nonetheless, the new constitution does not explicitly prohibit restrictions on freedom of expression, while the right of reply and the right to claim damages for inaccurate media reports are given constitutional status. The constitution also does not guarantee the right to access public information, although Montenegro does have legislation that provides for access to public information. Libel is punishable by fines of up to 14,000 euros (US$22,100) or more for certain types of defamation, and lawsuits against journalists threaten to encourage self-censorship.

A lawsuit filed in September by former president Milo Djukanovic against Zeljko Ivanovic, founder and director of the daily Vijesti, as well as the editor in chief and the newspaper’s publishing company was highly criticized by international media organizations. Djukanovic is seeking 1 million euros (US$1.6 million) in damages for “mental suffering” caused by defamation stemming from comments Ivanovic made after he was attacked by unknown assailants. Ivanovic, believing his attack was related to his work, publicly blamed Djukanovic for creating an environment of impunity. The trial opened in December and was ongoing at the end of the year. Separately, the trial of Ivanovic’s assailants also began in December. The president of the higher court in the capital city of Podgorica filed libel charges against two different journalists, including a journalist for the weekly Monitor, Petar Komnenic, and the editor in chief of Vijesti, Ljubisa Mitrovic. Both charges stemmed from reports alleging the court officials had ties to criminal activities. The 2004 murder of Dusko Jovanovic, editor of the opposition daily Dan, was still unsolved despite the 2006 controversial acquittal of the only person charged with the murder. In November, the editor in chief of public Radio Berane was attacked and severely beaten.

Both broadcast and print media are active and express diverse views. The print media consisted of private newspapers and a state-owned newspaper with a national circulation. The legally mandated privatization process for this newspaper was finally initiated in November of this year when the government put 51 percent of its shares up for sale. There are a number of privately owned radio and television stations in addition to the public broadcasters The members of the media watchdog Radio and Television Council are appointed by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and professional groups. As happened in 2006, the parliament refused on two occasions to verify some of the NGO appointments to the council. The parliament is meant only to verify the appointments and not make a choice for the appointments. The frequent failure to verify NGO nominations implies that the government was seeking to influence the council. There are no restrictions on foreign news broadcasts. The government does not restrict access to the internet, which was used by close to 40 percent of the population in 2007.