Montenegro Plans Tougher Penalties for Attacks on Journalists

Media representatives at a polling station in Podgorica, Montenegro. Photo: EPA-EFE/BORIS PEJOVIC

According to the amendments proposed to parliament, journalists would be treated the same as members of professions of public importance, such as the police and army.

"Attacks on people doing work of public importance, such as journalists, are an attack on democracy and freedom of speech. The true quality of a country's democracy can be measured by the safety of its journalists," Marko Milacic, president of Prava Crna Gora, said.

"Their safety is a priority, especially at the time when attacks on journalists have become more frequent," he added.

The amendments define journalism as a job of public importance and as a profession associated with an increased risk to safety in the field of public information.

They propose that killings of journalists and other persons of public importance be treated as cases of aggravated murder, incurrring prison terms of no less than ten years.

Whoever endangers the safety of journalists by threats would be imprisoned for between three months and five years. Under the current code, endangering someone's security incurs a potential fine or a one-year prison sentence.

The amendments were proposed on the initiative of NGOs and media unions and organizations, which on March 29 called for stricter penalties for attacks on journalists and for them to be granted the same status as state officials.

On March 31, the government announced a consultation on the idea, saying stricter sanctions should be introduced.

The amendments were already supported by parliament's Committee on Political System, Judiciary and Administration, and parliament should vote on them by the end of the year.

Continue reading on: