News / Europe

Attacks Against Montenegro Media Raise International Concerns

FILE - Editor-in-chief of Montenegro's leading daily Vijesti, Mihailo Jovovic looking through a window damaged in a bomb blast at the newspaper's offices in Podgorica, Dec. 27, 2013
FILE - Editor-in-chief of Montenegro's leading daily Vijesti, Mihailo Jovovic looking through a window damaged in a bomb blast at the newspaper's offices in Podgorica, Dec. 27, 2013
TEXT SIZE - +
Milena Djurdjic
— Attacks against independent newspapers and journalists have been increasing over the past few years in Montenegro, but two recent incidents are raising concerns and condemnation from human rights groups, free press advocates and U.S. officials.
 
An attack against Lidija Nikcevic of the newspaper Dan, which led to her hospitalization in early January, and the detonation of an explosive device outside the offices of the Vijesti daily in late December have led to calls for Montenegro’s government to investigate and prosecute those responsible.  
 
Delphine Halgand, director of the Washington, D.C. office for Reporters Without Borders, says impunity is unacceptable for a country aspiring to become a member of the European Union and should not be the rule in Montenegro. She notes that journalists working for independent media such as Vijesti, Dan and Monitor magazine have been regularly attacked or threatened since the murder of Dan editor Dusko Jovanovic in 2004.

“We don’t see any kind of willingness on the part of the government to resolve those attacks,” said Halgand. “What’s worse than that, we observe that no one responsible for these attacks has been brought to justice. That is why we are calling authorities, especially the prime minister, to condemn the violence and to do whatever it takes to stop these attacks, beginning with bringing to justice persons responsible.”

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Yee also strongly condemned the attacks on the office of Vijesti and against journalist Nikcevic, saying “We are concerned about what appears to be an emerging pattern of violence and intimidation in Montenegro, against journalists, against media outlets. We…strongly call on [the] government of Montenegro to investigate these incidents and to bring to justice those responsible…”
 
Robert Hand, a policy advisor to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, says Montenegro is a close friend and a possible future ally of Washington, but it has to be held to the same standards as other OSCE members.

“When something like this happens, we need to respond to it,” Hand said. “And in addition, we may have some higher expectations of Montenegro because it has accomplished so much in recent years and aspires to join the European Union, possibly NATO, things like that, and therefore we have these higher expectations, so for those reasons, when we hear about the incidents that are occurring, they are of great concern.”
 
Karin Karlekar from the independent watchdog organization Freedom House says Montenegro currently ranks 74th out of 197 countries in terms of press freedom, putting it in the category of “partly free.”
 
“Basically this has led to a climate of impunity because very few of the attacks have been investigated properly or prosecuted, so it is definitely an issue of concern because we’ve seen in a number of other media environments around the world that this level of attacks against journalists can really lead to restrictions on media freedom because it can lead to a climate of fear and self-censorship,” she said.
 
Freedom House and the Helsinki Commission also emphasize that journalists have to be protected, crimes investigated and those responsible brought to justice. Hand says until that happens, concern remains warranted.

“It is not just enough to express outrage about these actions and condemn them, but there needs to be follow-up so that the message is sent to whoever is doing it, that it is not going to be tolerated.”

He adds that such attacks can also affect prospects for Montenegro joining the EU, since Brussels has already expressed some concern about the media in Montenegro.

“I don’t want to overblow it and say that the situation is so severe that there are going to be problems," he said. “But certainly it is something that Montenegro, the Montenegrin government and Montenegrin authorities need to be aware and they need to pursue. The country needs to have a free media; it needs to have journalists who are allowed to criticize.”

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid