Pro-Ukrainian concert cancelled due to pressure from pro-Russian protesters
The Government of Montenegro has retracted the revised Law on the Origin of Property after facing criticism and opposition from Parliament, the European Commission, and several NGOs. The proposed law, intended to facilitate the confiscation of illegally obtained assets, was met with concerns regarding legal deficiencies and potential political motives. Although the government emphasised the importance of the bill in combating organised crime and corruption, the decision to withdraw it was prompted by the significant concerns expressed.
FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY
Protests in support of Ukraine on war anniversary
On 24th February, in capitals across the Balkans, citizens and political leaders expressed their support for the Ukrainian people, marking one year since the onset of Russia’s aggression. The region exhibited their solidarity and support for Ukraine, reaffirming its commitment to the country's sovereignty, and calling for an end to the conflict. This underscored the significance of international collaboration in addressing the ongoing crisis.
Solidarity marches for women’s rights, disability rights and against peer violence
In Cetinje, 22nd February, the International Day of the Fight against Peer Violence was commemorated with a symbolic gesture of releasing pink balloons. The event aimed to increase awareness about peer violence and its impact on young individuals. Through various activities and initiatives, the organisers aimed to foster a culture of respect, empathy, and non-violence among peers in the community. Across Montenegro and Southeast Europe, large-scale marches were held in support of women's rights on 8th March. These demonstrations aimed to raise awareness about gender inequality, violence against women, and discrimination. They called for greater gender equality and justice. The marches in Montenegro reflect the growing momentum and activism surrounding women's rights issues in both the country and the wider region. On 22nd March, the association "Love for Love" in Montenegro celebrated the International Day of People with Down's Syndrome with a heartwarming gathering. The president of the association, Sara Bero, expressed gratitude for the changing attitudes towards individuals with Down syndrome and highlighted the importance of raising awareness and promoting inclusivity in society
Protests over poor conditions in student housing
On 3rd March 2023, students at the Faculty of Philosophy and Philology in Nikšić gathered to protest longstanding issues with the dormitory, canteen, and heating facilities. They are demanding improvements to their living conditions, as well as transparency and effective communication from the relevant authorities. Both the university administration and the Student Parliament have expressed support for the students' cause and are actively working to resolve the problems. A week later, they organised another protest, emphasising their determination to persist until progress is made.
Worker’s protests in the judicial and health sectors over safety issues and intimidation of whistleblowers
The Action for Human Rights (HRA) supported a protest in front of the Basic Court building in Podgorica, which took place on 6th March. The protest was organised by employees of judicial institutions in response to a tragic event on 3rd March, when a person was killed and five others were physically injured due to the activation of a hand grenade at the entrance of the court building.
Employees of the Herceg Novi Health Center staged a protest, alleging retaliation by the management against individuals who expose irregularities. They are demanding answers from the authorities and the replacement of the current management. The employees claim that, under the new director, they were instructed not to make statements to the media, including on social media, and they fear potential consequences for speaking out.
Parents’ protest calls for more effective measures to ensure children’s safety
In response to multiple incidents of child endangerment, protests erupted in Podgorica and Bar on 11th March. Demonstrators voiced their concerns over the safety of children and demanded immediate action to prevent further harm. The protests underscore the urgency of safeguarding children's well-being and the need for effective measures to ensure their protection in the community. On 23rd March, representatives of "Vladimir Nazor" Primary School, along with parents and children, protested in front of the Government due to the continued use of alternative school premises for nearly three years. The Council of Parents expressed dissatisfaction with the authorities' failure to address the issue, calling for accountability and urging the responsible individuals to resign.
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Concert in support of Ukraine cancelled after pro-Russian protesters gather outside venue
On 16th February, protesters in Montenegro pressured Belarusian musicians into cancelling a pro-Ukrainian concert just hours before it was due to take place. This happened as a pro-Russian group gathered in front of the concert venue in Budva, chanting “Serbs and Russians are brothers forever.” According to the musicians, they were forced to cancel their performance after multiple venues refused to host it due to political pressure. The Ukrainian embassy in Montenegro urged the authorities to address the incident and ensure the safety of Ukrainians residing in the country. The police reported that the protest was brief and peaceful.
Widespread condemnation after musician admits to inappropriately touching journalist
On 10th March, musician Antonije Pušić, also known as Rambo Amadeus, admitted to inappropriately touching TV show producer and journalist Lejla Kašić. Kašić has filed sexual harassment charges due to the incident, which occured during the filming of the programme “Dnevnica.” Pušić insists that he only wanted to express his frustration and denies any sexual intent. These allegations have led UNICEF to suspend its cooperation with Pušić in light of his role as a goodwill ambassador for the organisation. While the incident has sparked public debate and condemnation, Montenegro is currently drafting legislation to include the crime of sexual harassment in its legal framework.
Attacks and threats towards journalists continue
The Trade Union of Media of Montenegro has reported several other instances of attacks and threats towards journalists in the reporting period. This includes the sexist and threatening messages sent to journalist Rosanda Mučalica, insults directed at journalist Jadranka Ćetković, and threats and insults targeting the portal Standard in response to one of their social media posts. All three cases have been reported to the police, and the prosecutors have stated that there are no grounds for pursuing criminal charges in these instances.