The SafeJournalists network is concerned about the inadequate action of the judicial authorities in the case of the attack on a journalist from the newspaper Vijesti Jadranka Cetkovic, which is being conducted simultaneously in front of the court for misdemeanors in Bijelo Polje and the High State Prosecutor’s Office. Both bodies decide on the complaint of the injured party. This denied the journalist adequate criminal protection, in accordance with the relevant laws of Montenegro.
The attack on journalist Jadranka Cetkovic happened in June while she was trying to do her job. The case was reported to the police and the Basic Prosecutor’s Office decided that there was no criminal offense. After the objection of the lawyer of the injured journalist, the Higher Prosecutor’s Office accepted the objection and sent the case back to the Basic Prosecutor’s Office for redecision.
In the meantime, the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Bijelo Polje submitted a request to the Court for Misdemeanors to initiate misdemeanor proceedings regarding the same event and against the same suspect. Then, the Basic Prosecutor’s Office again made a decision on the rejection of the criminal complaint, and the attorney of the injured party again submitted a complaint to the Higher State Prosecutor’s Office in order to examine the new decision on the rejection of the criminal complaint. At the time when the High Prosecutor’s Office was in the process of deciding on an appeal against such a decision, the Court for Misdemeanors scheduled a hearing in the same case.
After the Basic State Prosecutor’s Office in Bijelo Polje requested the postponement of the hearing, due to the fact that the proceedings before the competent prosecution have not yet been completed, the Court for Misdemeanors in Bijelo Polje rejected such a proposal, conducted the evidentiary proceedings expeditiously and concluded the hearing.
To make the situation even more absurd, the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro received a notification from the High Prosecutor’s Office that they accepted the second appeal, and that the prosecutor was wrong when he estimated that it was only a misdemeanor. This leads to the fact that the same case is currently both a misdemeanor and a criminal offense, which sends a very bad picture of real protection in Montenegro.
“The case of colleague Jadranka Cetkovic showed the inability of the competent authorities to provide real protection to attacked journalists. Our efforts to strengthen criminal protection are in vain when we have a situation where the same case is decided at the same time by different authorities whose decisions are mutually exclusive”, said president of the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro Radomir Krackovic. The Trade Union of Media of Montenegro will, on this occasion, demand the responsibility of everyone in the chain, because the result of their work could be the end of the case without adequate protection for the victim of violence.
SafeJournalists Network, representing more than 8,200 media professionals in the Western Balkans, joins its member TUMM in the condemnation of this kind of work of the judicial authorities and demands an answer from everyone who participated in the procedure, as well as a solution to the case of journalist Jadranka Cetkovic. In addition, SafeJournalists network believes that some of the fundamental professional standards, as well as valid substantive and procedural norms of the criminal and misdemeanor legislation, were violated by this behavior.
SafeJournalists Network will inform relevant national and international stakeholders about these cases.
Each attack on journalists is an attack on public interest, democracy and rights of all citizens.
Skopje – Belgrade – Podgorica – Pristina – Sarajevo – Zagreb – Tirana, 12.10.2022
Association of Journalists of Kosovo
Association of Journalists of Macedonia
BH Journalists Association
Croatian Journalists’ Association
Independent Journalists Association of Serbia
Trade Union of Media of Montenegro