Montenegrins in Self-Isolation Sue State for Publishing Names
A Montenegrin solider guarding a quarantine centre in Podgorica. Photo:BIRN/Samir Kajosevic
"By publishing the names and personal data of persons in self-isolation, the government stigmatized them and unnecessarily exposed their privacy to the public … the government has unnecessarily caused material damage to the budget of Montenegro just because it didn't respect the constitution," Kavaric told BIRN.
The government published the names on March 21, despite warnings from opposition parties and civic society organisations that it risked violating constitutionally guaranteed human rights. They also warned that citizens whose names were published might sue the state before the courts.
The government said it had a right to publish the names because some citizens were not respecting self-isolation obligations. It also said it had approval for its actions from the Agency for Personal Data Protection. It stressed that the security forces could not control every citizen who should be in self-isolation, and that anyone who failed to self-isolate posed a threat to the entire community.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Aivo Orav, called on the authorities to find the right balance between protecting the health and respecting the confidentiality of health information and the right to privacy of citizens.
Danilo Papovic, from the Civic Alliance, said citizens had every right to to seek legal protection of their civil rights.
"The lawsuits are completely justified … This government action indicates the absence of responsibility both in the legal and financial sense, bearing in mind that the consequences of illegal actions are ultimately borne by the citizens, because any compensation is paid from the budget," Papovic told BIRN.