Montenegro: Police demand for information about crime reporters

May 13, 2018 | Media and Politics

Montenegrin media unions have voiced great concern over a police demand for information about crime reporters, seeing it as a potential violation of their rights.

Source: BalkanInsight

Police Demand for Journalists' Data Worries Montenegrin Media

By Dusica Tomovic | BIRN Podgorica

Media associations in Montengero have criticised the country's Police Directorate for demanding a list of journalists covering organised crime.

Police say they need the information to assess whether reporters are under threat.

But media organizations on Sunday said the disclosure of the personal data of journalists would compromise their work with contacts and sources and violate their privacy.

They advised editorial staff and media management to consider the matter carefully before making such lists and sending them to the police.

The Police Directorate sent a letter to all media in Montenegro on Friday asking for the names of crime reporters.

"We ask you to provide us with the names of journalists in your media covering fight against crime. The names of journalists are needed to conduct a security threat assessment," the letter read.

The demand for the names came after investigative journalist Olivera Lakic was shot and wounded on May 8 in front of her home in the capital, Podgorica.

This was not the first time she has been attacked. In 2012, a man in a black tracksuit struck her, also in front of the building where she lives.

The attack followed a series of threats she had been receiving since she wrote a series of articles about the Tara cigarette factory and the Montenegrin Tobacco Company in 2011.

Officials, party leaders, the media, NGOs and representatives of international organizations condemned the attack, urging the prosecution and police to investigate the matter speedily and bring the perpetrators to justice.

But Mila Radulovic, head of the Montenegrin Media Association, said the police demand would compromise their work and violate reporters' rights.

“The security assessment means that every journalist will be checked by the National Security Agency ... from their personal life to their journalistic contacts. This may compromise journalistic sources and would be a violation of personal rights and freedoms ... as guaranteed by the European Court of Human Rights," she said.

Journalists frequently complain of violent intimidation in the Balkan country.

In April, as BIRN reported, a car bomb exploded in the town of Bijelo Polje front of the home of the prominent journalist Sead Sadikovic, known for his investigations into corruption and organized crime. It is unknown whether he was the target.

The latest Amnesty International report, published in March, highlighted that many past murders and attacks on journalists and media workers in Montenegro have remained unsolved.

The attack on Lakic garnered widespread international attention, generating unwelcome headlines in foreign media about the strength of organised crime in Montenegro, which sees itself as a prime candidate for EU membership.

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/police-security-checks- worry-montenegrin-media-organizations-05-14-2018