Montenegrin Media Seeks Libel Re-Criminalization

26 Mar 15

Montenegrin Media Seeks Libel Re-Criminalization

The Media Self-regulatory Council says defamation should again become a criminal offence after recent serious cases of human rights and media code violations.

Dusica Tomovic


Montenegro’s Media Self-regulatory Council on Wednesday called on lawmakers and other state institutions in Montenegro to adopt a special law on defamation to guarantee more effective judicial procedures in cases of defamation in the media.

The initiative of the organization, to which most print and electronic media outlets in the country belong, follows criticism by the Venice Commission of a proposed amendment to the current Media Law initiated by MPs of the ruling coalition.

The amendment enables courts to prohibit distribution of media content, if it violates an earlier court decision to ban the distribution of such content, but only temporarily and until the final judgment.

The Venice Commission, which is the legal advisory body of the Council of Europe, issued an offical oppinion concerning the new media law last week and urged Montenegrin lamakers to abolish this provision on the grounds that it could limit media freedom.

Montenegro abolished defamation in the media as a criminal offence in 2011 after the new media law was adopted.

However, drastic violations of journalistic ethics and the media code in some Montenegrin media in the past few months have raised questions about whether this was the right move. In several cases, courts have also banned distribution of controversial media content on the grounds of human rights violations.

“Citizens have not been able to get satisfaction for defamation in the media in the long court proceedings,” the media council said in a statement.

The council added that the amendments proposed by the politicians were a setback to media freedom in Montenegro and would effectively limit it.

One of the backers of the new law, MP Andrija Popovic, on Tuesday said he would accept the recommendations of the Venice Commission and, in consultation with other colleagues, either withdraw the amendments or modify the proposal.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)