Podgorica, Montenegro (26 November 2015) — The Ministry of the Interior rejects the claims that the Council of Europe has been wrongly informed about the way the police treated journalists during and after the Democratic Front’s protest in Podgorica on 24 October. Furthermore, the freedom of expression was not suppressed on that day and tear gas was not thrown at journalists, but a number of actions were taken in order to provide them with the best possible working conditions.
By providing information about the conditions in which police were taking actions defined by the law and setting up the contact points for timely and accurate information, as well as by providing fluorescent vests, the Interior Ministry worked proactively trying to ensure the best possible conditions for media covering of the protest.
After having been attacked in front of the Parliament building, the police, acting according to the law, established stable public peace and order. To that end, they used the mildest means – tear gas.
The use of tear gas in Stanko Dragojević Street cannot be regarded as an act of violence against journalists, or an action taken in order to disable them to report freely, when taking into account the circumstances. As the journalists themselves said, in the immediate vicinity of the Foreign Ministry and Government buildings, there was a group of troublemakers, including those who had attacked the police earlier that night. Tear gas was thrown at the group of perpetrators, not at reporters.
The police were enforcing the law at several locations in Podgorica in an attempt to establish stable public peace and order, and in such circumstances everyone had to adjust themself to the conditions on the ground. It was up to the journalists to choose the ways and place from which they will report on the developments.
In some cases, such as the event occurred in Stanko Dragojević Street, journalists faced more difficult working conditions. The Interior Ministry understands that, but it once again reiterates that, due to attacks on the police and later incidents at different locations in the city, it was extremely important for all the citizens of Podgorica and journalists themselves to establish stable public peace and order.
With a view to identifying troublemakers and prosecuting them, the police are cooperating with the Prosecutor’s Office. The public will be provided with more information on that issue in a timely manner.
MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR OF MONTENEGRO
Source: Government of Montenegro