Civil society demands government transparency and access to information
Access to information has proven a rallying cry for Montenegrin civil society of late. As previously covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, the lack of access to information in Montenegro has hindered the quality of investigative journalism. On 22nd December 2017, 11 civil society organisations (CSOs) sent a letter to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister demanding that information from the Commission for Monitoring Attacks on Journalists be released so they can inform the public. The letter emphasised that it is vital that key documents be released to ensure that the Commission is upholding its role in monitoring attacks against journalists and promoting freedom of expression.
In November 2017, local civil society organisation Human Rights Action asked the Constitutional Court to open its session by examining the ineffective investigation around the attempted murder of a journalist in 2007. As previously covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, journalist Tufik Softić survived a murder attempt in 2007 and was subsequently offered police protection to ensure his safety. Softić gained prominence for his reporting on corruption and organised crime and has since received numerous death threats. Despite this, in December 2016 the Montenegrin authorities revoked his police protection, prompting an outcry from human rights groups over his safety. The Constitutional Court found that the authorities had violated Softić's right to life by overseeing an inadequate investigation proportionate to the severity of the crime. Softić was awarded 7,000 EUR as compensation for the ordeal.
A number of protests recently took place in Montenegro without incident. Below are some examples:
- Human rights activists protested against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital;
- The five most influential CSOs and their supporters protested in defence of the independence of state-funded broadcaster - RTCG, which has been accused of becoming increasingly biased;
- Mothers protested against missing welfare payments from the Employment Bureau;
- Mothers of three or more children continued to protest demanding remunerations that had been suspended by the government; and
- Movement URA, the Democratic Party of Serbia and the Social Democratic Party protested in Cetinje in defiance of those who ordered violent acts against their candidates during the elections held on 26th November 2017.