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Montenegro6 August 2002

New legislation threaten independence of media

image 170 x 70 (GIF) Reporters Without Borders has protested against the adoption by the Montenegro parliament on 28 July of legislation limiting the editorial independence of the public and private media.

"With this legislation, Montenegro has backed away from the commitments it undertook with a view to joining the Council of Europe at the end of the year", Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to Vesna Perovic, spokesperson for parliament and Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic. "We call on the government to present laws to parliament that accord with the European standard, and we call on parliament to approve these laws and repeal those that restrict freedom of information in Montenegro and are detrimental to a rapprochement with European institutions", the letter said.

On 28 July, the Montenegro parliament modified the law on public information in such a way as to oblige the news media to take account of the views of the leaders of the ruling parties when deciding editorial policy. The parliament also approved a new law which limits the news sources and number of articles that can be published on each of the political parties in an election period. This two laws, ratified by President Milo Djukanovic, run counter to three other bills on the news media which had been prepared by the government with the help of Council of Europe experts ten days earlier. On 1 August, radio and television stations stopped broadcasting for half an hour in protest.

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