Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, A/HRC/26/30/Add.1, 29 April 2014: Montenegro
III. Domestic legal framework
12. The Media Law, enacted in 2002, establishes general principles and provisions on which the media system is based. It prohibits censorship and establishes that Montenegro shall provide and guarantee freedom of information at the level of the standards as contained in the international documents on human rights and freedoms (art. 1). Article 23 of the law prohibits the publication of “information and opinions that instigate discrimination, hatred or violence against persons or group of persons based on … race, religion, nation, ethnic group, sex or sexual orientation”. The Media Law also establishes a right for individuals to demand publication of a correction or reply “without any modification or addition” (art. 28) if requested within 30 days of publication of material which offends them, with few exceptions. Publishers failing to do so are subject to judicial review.
21. Finally, the Special Rapporteur was concerned by reports on discriminatory statements in the media and among the political leadership. In particular his attention was drawn to the recently reported attacks against representatives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
IV. Situation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Montenegro
B. Issues of concern
6. Incitement to hatred
63. The Constitution of Montenegro prohibits incitement to or instigation of hatred or intolerance on any ground, as well as any direct or indirect discrimination on any ground. The anti-discrimination law (2010) also specifies the mechanisms for protection against discrimination. The Media Law further establishes the prohibition of publishing information and opinions that incite to discrimination, hatred or violence against a person or a group of persons on the ground of their sexual orientation. 64. Given the ethnic and cultural diversity that marks Montenegrin society, it is critical to guarantee that all minorities have their right to expression protected and promoted. The Special Rapporteur notes with appreciation the reports on the financial support provided by the Ministry of Culture for the production of media content related to minorities and vulnerable groups. However, he underlines the fact that the allocation of public funds for any media or content production should be independently administered.
65. Despite the legal framework, episodes of discriminatory statements in the media and among the political leadership can be noted with some frequency and require dedicated attention. In 2011, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women expressed concern at sex-discriminatory statements made by politicians and that the media often conveyed stereotyped and sometimes degrading images of women. Discriminatory statements also target minority groups, such as the Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians (RAE) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals.
66. The Special Rapporteur received numerous reports on attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The European Union noted that activists defending the rights of sexual monitories are still exposed to discrimination; it also indicated that violence against LGBTI individuals continued to increase in the country with impunity, as attacks are rarely reported; and criminal offences of that type are not properly prosecuted.
67. Attempts by the LGBT community to conduct peaceful demonstrations have been challenged by violence. In October 2013, it was reported that 2,000 police officers were deployed to ensure the safety of participants in a gay pride demonstration in Podgorica. In July, around 200 demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Budva as they tried to cross the blockade protecting 40 marchers calling for LGBT rights. Zdravko Cimbaljevic, the founder and director of the organization, LGBT Forum Progress, was granted asylum in Canada in November 2013 based on the assessment that Montenegro was unable to protect him, because the State Prosecutor’s Office had failed to properly treat numerous cases of hatred and threats addressed against him in the country. A survey conducted in 2009 indicated that 70 per cent of the Montenegrin population considered homosexuality to be an illness.
68. The Special Rapporteur welcomes the fact that the authorities have formally recognized the need to enhance measures to protect sexual minorities from discrimination and violence. He also notes with appreciation the inclusion in the national plan for implementation of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination of initiatives to sensitize the media and to disseminate anti-discrimination messages through the media. Attention to the enforcement of national norms and to the implementation of sensitization strategies will be crucial in promoting a shift in the recurrent disturbing levels of hostility against the LGBT community. Moreover, beyond formal announcements, it is essential to have the country’s authorities publicly state their open rejection of all forms of incitement to hatred, in particular hate messages targeting sexual minorities.
VI. Conclusions and recommendations
74. Progress in the adoption of norms protecting against all forms of discrimination has its impact limited by the failure to protect groups particularly targeted by discriminatory statements such as the LGBT community. In particular, anti-discrimination efforts may be easily undermined if political authorities not only fail to publicly condemn all forms of discrimination, but also occasionally resort to some sort of discriminatory remark in their own political statements.
6. Promote diversity and non-discrimination and ensure responses to all forms of incitement to hatred
82. The State must actively promote the right to expression of minorities, ensuring the full independence of those benefiting from financial resources. Law enforcement authorities must fully implement national norms regarding the prohibition of discrimination on all grounds. Specific attention must be paid to the recurrently high levels of hostility against the LGBT community. In particular acts of aggression against this community must be fully investigated. The authorities must publicly express their complete rejection of all forms of incitement to hatred. Efforts to promote the self-regulation of the media should also play an important role in ensuring better protection against incitement to hatred through the media.
Link to full text of the report: Report-SRFoE-Montenegro-2014-eng
Link to State’s comments on the report: Report-SRFoE-Montenegro-comments-2014-eng
- 2. Available at: http://minoritycentre.org/sites/default/files/law-media-me.pdf.↵
- 41. CEDAW/C/MNE/CO/1, para. 16.↵
- 42. European Commission (see footnote 40 above). [40. European Commission, Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Montenegro’s progress in the implementation of reforms (2013), p. 36.]↵
- 43. COWI/Danish Institute for Human Rights, “Study on homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity”, para. 70.↵