Update - 16/12/2014
A court in Niksic sentenced five people to jail terms ranging from 11 to 15 months on 10 December for physically attacking Lidija Nikcevic, a journalist with the daily newspaper Dan, on 4 January 2014. They included “Narcis” Zeljko Miletic, the owner of a funeral parlour, whose controversial practices Nikcevic criticized in an article. After initially claiming she had been the victim of an attempted robbery, the police finally said Miletic organized the attack. He was given a 15-month sentence. All five pleaded not guilty.
Reporters Without Borders is worried by a decline in the climate for journalists in Montenegro, with a violent attack on a newspaper reporter in Niksic, the second largest city, two days ago, and an explosion outside a newspaper in the capital, Podgorica, on 26 December.
There is so far no sign of anyone being held responsible for this violence and this is unacceptable. Reporters Without Borders calls on the authorities to guarantee the safety of journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The victim of the attack in Niksic was Lidija Nikcevic of the newspaper Dan. She was repeatedly struck on the head outside the newspaper’s office on 4 January, sustaining injuries that resulted in her being hospitalized for 24 hours.
An explosive device was set off outside the headquarters of the Vijesti daily newspaper, beneath the windows of its editor, Mihailo Jovovic, on the evening of 26 December. Fifteen employees were present at the time but none of them was hurt.
“Impunity for violence against media personnel is the rule in Montenegro,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The tolerance that the justice system shows towards those who attack journalists is unacceptable.
“We call on the authorities, and in particular Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, to condemn this violence and to do whatever it takes to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice and to establish a safe climate for journalists, which is necessary to guarantee freedom of information.”
The past year has been a trying one for media freedom in Montenegro. In August, a TNT charge exploded in the courtyard of Tufik Softic, an investigative journalist based in Berane who works for Vijesti and the Monitor magazine.
Monitor editor Milka Tadic-Mijovic received particularly alarming threats in the course of 2013. She was the target of an all-out hate campaign and received extremely vulgar SMS messages. Her attempts to get the police to take action were unsuccessful.
The situation for media personnel in Montenegro has been worrying for several years. Journalists working for Vijesti, Dan and Monitor are often the targets of threats or direct attacks. Media personnel have been attacked with impunity ever since Dan editor Dusko Jovanovic’s murder in Podgorica in 2004.
Montenegro is ranked 113th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
Photo credit: novosti