Montenegro Mulls Banning Tabloid Attacks on Activist

30 Oct 14

Montenegro Mulls Banning Tabloid Attacks on Activist

State Prosecutor seeks a court ban on the Belgrade newspaper that has resumed its highly controversial campaign against the rights activist and MANS head, Vanja Calovic.

Dusica Tomovic


Montenegro’s State Prosecution Office on Wednesday asked courts to ban distribution of editions of a Serbian-based newspaper that has renewed its inflammatory campaign against a local rights activist.

The Prosecution seeks a ban on Informer’s editions of October 26, 27 and 28, which contain controversial articles about the rights activist Vanja Calovic, head of the organisation MANS.

On Tuesday, the Montenegrin edition of Informer released a video recording, calling on readers to “figure out themselves” whether they could recognise Calovic as the person engaged in sexual acts.

The new attack came four months after Informer acused her of having sexual relations with her own dogs.

A number of parliamentarians have complained of the newspaper’s apparent vendetta against Calovic, calling it hate spech and a violation of fundamental constitutional rights.

On Wednesday, four opposition MPs, Azra Jasavic, Branka Bosnjak, Jelisaveta Kalezic and Ljiljana Djuraskovic, filed criminal charges against the paper and its editor, Nokav Uskokovic, for endangering public morals and the dignity and reputation of citizens.

In July, Montenegro’s Basic Court temporarily banned distribution of the editions of the tabloid accusing the activist of bestiality.

The speaker of parliament, Ranko Krivokapic, on Wednesday said he regretted that the state had proven unable to stop foreign media on the territory of Montenegro from using hate speech.

Krivokapic recalled that while parliament in the summer had reacted to Informer’s earlier articles about the head of MANS, other institutions and bodies failed to do so.

“In the meantime, unfortunately, other insititutions have not fulfilled their legal and constitutional obligations to protect Montenegro from such attacks,” he said.

MANS is an influential NGO in Montenegro and its work on corruption, organized crime and the misuse of state funds has brought it into conflict with the government of Milo Djukanovic, which has accused it of political bias.

It particularly angered the authorities in recent months by publishing reports and audio recordings, which it claimed provided proof of serious wrongdoing by Prime Minister Djukanovic’s governing Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS.

The US embassy, the EU delegation in Podgorica and the number of NGOs have called Informer’s reporting “irresponsible and improper”.

Montenegrin Ombudsman Suck Bakovic condemned Informer’s articles and “disturbing images” and urged its editors to refrain from publishing these and similar media content.

The global watchdog body Transparency International on Wednesday called on the Montenegrin authorities to “investigate and bring to justice” the organisers of the public campaign against Calovic .

“The government should protect civil society so that organizations such as MANS can work and and not be harassed,” a representative of the Transparency International, Elena Panfilova, said in a statement.

Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)