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Montenegrin authorities called upon to address attacks on newspaper office, journalists

Mihailo Jovovic, the editor-in-chief of Vijesti, looks through a window damaged in a bomb blast overnight at the newspaper's offices, 27 December 2013.
Mihailo Jovovic, the editor-in-chief of Vijesti, looks through a window damaged in a bomb blast overnight at the newspaper's offices, 27 December 2013.

REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have expressed their dismay after learning that an explosive device was recently discovered in the offices of the Vijesti daily newspaper in Montenegro.

The IFJ/EFJ have sent a letter to the leaders of the Montenegro Republic, Prime minister Milo Djukanovic, President Filip Vujanovic and President of the Parliament Ranko Krivokapic, expressing their deep concern regarding the attack on the daily newspaper which put the lives of many journalists and media workers in danger.

Signed by IFJ President Jim Boumelha and EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård, the letter thanks the government of Montenegro for the statement it issued condemning the attack, but says this is not sufficient to deter the enemies of press freedom in the country.

"Despite the establishment of a commission to evaluate the actions by the police, prosecution and judiciary bodies in cases of assaults on journalists, your government continues to turn a blind eye to the increase in hate speech so frequent now in state media which remain unpunished," says the letter.

In the letter, the IFJ notes the verbal attacks by the Mayor of Podgorica on photojournalists and Mihailo Jovović, the editor-in-chief of Vijesti, while stressing that the IFJ remains anxious to hear the long awaited results of the investigations, if any, by the Montenegro government into who is responsible for the murder of Dusko Jovanovic, the chief editor of daily newspaper Dan, who is responsible for beating up Zeljko Ivanovic, director of Vijesti, and who twice assaulted reporter Tufik Softic and attacked reporter Mladen Stojovic.

In a separate statement, the IFJ has today also condemned the attack against journalist Lidija Nikcevic from Dan. She was assaulted as she was leaving her office on Saturday night, 4 January, by a masked man and suffered terrible head injuries.

The Federation has demanded that the perpetrators of this appalling attack are identified and answer for their crime.

"There is ample evidence to show that your institutions continue to tolerate the rampant impunity which has now made these attacks simple routine," states the letter, continuing "This absence of zero-tolerance on the part of your government would be unacceptable to the institutions of the European Union."

The letter adds: "Your statements condemning these acts are welcome. But words must be turned into action and a bigger effort made to bring the perpetrators to justice, in order to stop these attacks and make journalists in Montenegro feel safer.

"The IFJ and EFJ call on your government to act immediately and substantially so that journalism ceases to be the most dangerous profession in our country. Such an effort on your part would go far to show your commitment to advancing values of media freedom in Montenegro."

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