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Montenegrin Journalist Shot and Injured in Pristina

Increasing violence against journalists from the Balkan country draws widespread condemnation from the international community.

9 May 2018

Olivera Lakic (pictured), an investigative reporter for prominent opposition-oriented Vijesti newspaper, was shot and wounded last evening in Podgorica, The Guardian writes, while also noting that the journalist is reportedly out of danger.

 

The attack drew a swift response from both prominent figures in Montenegro and the international community, with Prime Minister Dusko Markovic calling for a “swift and efficient investigation,” and the head of the EU delegation in Montenegro, Aivo Orav, labeling it “very worrying.”

 

The Council of Europe’s secretary general, Thorbjorn Jagland, said that he was “shocked and saddened” at the news of the attack on Lakic, adding “attacks on journalists are therefore also an attack on democracy.”

 

EurActiv notes that Lakic was attacked in the same spot in Podgorica six years ago. The perpetrator served a few months in jail, while Lakic received temporary police protection, The Guardian notes.

 

Last month, a car bomb exploded in Bijelo Polje, in northeastern Montenegro, in front of the home of journalist Sead Sadikovic, who is known for his investigations into corruption and organized crime, Balkan Insight wrote. A National Security meeting that took place around the time of the incident noted the worsening of the security situation in the country “as a result of the growing conflicts of organized crime groups.”

 

On 3 May, which is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day, the Western Balkan's Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists' Safety, a network of 8,000 members, issued a call for the authorities to “guarantee the safety of journalists” across the region, according to B92.

 

The organization noted that the Western Balkans have been the scene of 446 attacks on journalists since 2014, very few of which have been solved. The country with the highest number of safety violations was Serbia, with 143 such incidents, followed by Bosnia with 102, Kosovo with 77, Macedonia with 59, Croatia with 43, and Montenegro with 31.

 

 

  • Montenegro ranked 103rd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) World Press Freedom Index released at the end of April.

 

  • The RSF country profile notes that journalists are subject to harassment and threats, and that attacks against them that happened in previous years went unpunished in 2017.

 

  • “In some cases, prosecutors also pressured journalists to reveal their sources. Self-censorship and safety continue to be major challenges. Defamation has been decriminalized since 2011, but lawsuits against independent journalists and media are common,” according to RSF.

 

  • The climate of violence against journalists was a mainstay of Montenegrin society even before its 2006 independence from Serbia. In 2004 Dusko Jovanovic, director and editor-in-chief of the Podgorica daily Dan, was gunned down in the Montenegrin capital, a murder that sent shockwaves throughout the country’s body politic. The murder remains unsolved.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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