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MFRR partners raise concerns about smear campaign directed at journalists in Montenegro

Gavin.Rea

28 August 2020

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Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners and press and media freedom organisations raise concerns about an online smear campaign directed at journalists in Montenegro

 

Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners and press and media freedom organisations are deeply concerned by the smear and intimidation campaign undertaken against three journalists in Montenegro.

 

In mid-August, the online platform UDAR released a list of what it called “collaborators of Serbian secret services,“ which included three journalists, namely: Sinisa Lukovic and Vuk Lajovic of the daily Vijesti, and Drazen Zivkovic of the news site Borba.me. This inclusion is a clear attempt to target the journalists and undermine their reporting on corruption and abuse of power. UDAR conceals the authors and sources of its information and does not provide any independently verifiable evidence to support the list’s claims. Without the requisite information, the inclusion of Sinisa Lukovic, Vuk Lajovic and Drazen Zivkovic can only be seen as an attempt to restrict their work and dissuade others from continuing their work.

MFRR and partners call on Montenegrin authorities to investigate the online website and to have the journalists’ names removed from the list immediately. Authorities should also launch an investigation into the activities of Udar to ensure that they uphold the legislation on media transparency.

 

With the country gearing up for the parliamentary elections on 30 August, it is paramount that journalists are allowed to work freely and independently. For this reason, the MFRR urges the government of Montenegro to uphold press and media freedom and to allow journalists in the country to do their jobs without the fear of attack or the prospect of threats.

Signed:

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

This statement has been coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. The MFRR is organised by an consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) including ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project is co-funded by the European Commission.

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