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DPM Pažin: Protection of journalists' safety is significantly improved, but responsibility for omissions in unresolved cases must be established

DPM Pažin: Protection of journalists
Published date 10.09.2019 17:00 | Author PR Service

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Montenegrin institutions are undoubtedly much more capable of investigating and sanctioning cases of violence against journalists, but it is necessary to make every effort to resolve the unresolved cases from earlier years, said Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Pažin, speaking at a roundtable on "Freedom of the media and media environment in Montenegro" organised today by the Assembly Committee on European Integration.

DPM Pažin reminded that the Government's political commitment to protecting and promoting media freedoms is reflected in concrete financial support to independent private media and public broadcaster, current reform of media legislation according to the highest European standards and creation of environment with zero tolerance for violence against journalists.

Speaking about the cooperation between the Government and the Commission for Investigating the Attack on Journalists, the Deputy Prime Minister said that this cooperation was significantly improved during the mandate of the incumbent Government and that, following the Government's instructions, the competent institutions actively acted on all the conclusions and recommendations of the Commission. He stressed, however, that it was necessary to work even more actively to fully investigate unresolved cases of assault on journalists, including establishing the accountability of civil servants handling those cases.

"The time has come to open the question of the responsibility of those who handle these cases. We have exhausted the mechanisms at our disposal to enhance cooperation between the Commission and the Government, and I think we have a consensus that we have succeeded in that," the Deputy Prime Minister noted.

He said that the Government was aware that some cases could have been done better, specifying that he was primarily thinking of the murder of Editor-in-Chief of Dan Duško Jovanović and the case of Tufik Softić. "It is evident that there were weaknesses in the system and there were deficiencies in procedure. It is time to find an answer whether it is the result of objective weaknesses or the result of subjective omissions. If this is the result of subjective omissions, we need to identify the weaknesses in the system and see if someone is responsible."

DPM Pažin stressed that, if the reason for the omissions was insufficient professionalism, the nonprofessional people must be removed from service. "But if it is bad intent, it is much more difficult to establish the facts and the evidence is needed," the Deputy Prime Minister said and pointed to the aggravating circumstance that certain responsible persons are no longer in office where the omissions have been made.

He emphasised that in order to establish criminal liability for the omissions of acting civil servants in certain cases of attacks on journalists, it is necessary to gather adequate facts and evidence, adding that everyone involved will be prosecuted. 

DPM Pažin concluded that today's roundtable, attended by MPs, as well as representatives of state institutions, the media community and the civil sector, is evidence that a constructive dialogue on very difficult topics burdening Montenegrin society is possible in the Parliament of Montenegro.

OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER