The NGO Mladiinfo Montenegro attended the conference of the Media Trade Union of Montenegro, at which the report “Facts against lawsuits: Decade of decriminalization of defamation” was presented, on February 16, 2021. years.
Speakers at the conference: President of the Media Union of Montenegro, Mariana Camovic Velickovic, President of the Basic Court Podgorica, Zeljka Jovovic, Researcher in the Media Union of Montenegro, Bojana Lakovic Konatar, Legal Expert Mirko Boskovic, Legal Expert Milorad Markovic and Journalist Tamara Skrozza.
Mariana Camović Veličković pointed out that the analyzed cases were in the period from the decriminalization of defamation in 2011 to 2020.
“It turned out that more than 200 lawsuits were filed, that 142 were legally terminated, and that 68 cases were active. The Monitoring Team of the Media Union monitored more than 200 hearings in the remaining 68 cases that are active and have not yet reached a verdict. Until the end of the procedure, we will monitor those cases “, stated Camović Veličković”, said Marijana.
She also emphasized that the monitoring showed that it is the citizens who most often sue journalists and the media.
“It is a surprising fact that citizens are suing the media the most. The analysis provided support for understanding the way courts work. I am glad that the importance of the Basic Court in Podgorica has been recognized, through the number of cases. I am also pleased that the analysis did not show that the basic courts favor one of the categories of prosecutors. That is what proves our objectivity, “Jovović pointed out.
“The largest number of lawsuits and the worst year for journalists was 2019, when more than 50 lawsuits were filed due to damage to parts and reputation. Some of these cases are still active. More than three million euros have been demanded from journalists and the media during the ten years since the decriminalization of defamation. The amount awarded by the courts is much smaller, “Lakovic Konatar pointed out.
Bojana Laković Konatar also emphasized that the media were sued 210 times.
“When it comes to court proceedings, citizens sue the most, in 103 cases, and it is a very worrying fact that apart from citizens, there is a trend for the media to sue colleagues in a huge number of cases. From 2011 until today, 142 cases in which journalists and media have been sued have been completed. “13 courts tried, and most cases were in the Basic Court in Podgorica, about 90 cases,” said Bojana.
She also emphasized which are the most sued media.
“The analysis showed that the most sued were the media, and the second defendant were journalists, less often editors. Most lawsuits were filed against daily newspapers, against Day 41, and the lawsuit was finalized. In second place is Dnevnik Vijesti 36, followed by Dnevne novine with 12, Pink M with 12, Monitor nine, portals Aktuelno.me and RT Glas Plava six. Daily newspapers are most often sued, televisions are in second place, and portals are in third place, while radio stations are the least sued media, “said Bojana Laković Konatar.
Legal expert Mirko Bošković pointed out that before starting a job and publishing information, a journalist must perceive all potential difficulties and shortcomings that may occur in that information itself, which could later expose them to civil liability.
“Journalists must get acquainted in detail with the standards. “They often do not have much time to look at the information they need to publish in the light of legal frameworks and standards, in today’s time, which is rich in information, which requires the speed of information flow,” Boskovic said.
Legal expert Milorad Markovic pointed out that the analysis showed that Montenegrin courts had reached a high level of application of the standards of the European Court of Human Rights.
Journalist Tamara Skrozza emphasized that in order to increase trust in the media, media literacy of citizens is necessary, which is lacking in the countries of the region.
“As much as journalists respected professional standards, if there is no audience that will know how to evaluate it, we painted in vain. “What happened in the Scandinavian countries should happen in the entire region, and that is that media literacy has entered the school curriculum,” Skrozza pointed out.