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
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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs