Another Brick In The Wall (Law)

Hajdana Simović, Montengro

Alea iacta est … for us… anyway!
Hate speech, outside the law, is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation.

“When a man remains in a dark, he doesn’t seek for a man
who turned off a candle, but seeks for the another candle.”
writer B. Pekic


Hate speech, outside the law, is speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation. In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or action against or by a protected individual or group. Furthermore, racial and other discrimination is forbidden by Article 443 of the Criminal code. It states that anyone who spreads ideas about the superiority of one race over another, or instigate racial discrimination, shall be punished by imprisonment for a term of three months to three years.


Codex of Montenegrin Journalists does not contain principles or guidelines that specifically refer to online media. The Codex was adopted by six journalists’ and media organizations in 2002 in Montenegro Media Institute. This was the period when basic media laws were drafted, setting the legal framework for this area.


Montenegro also has a special law on prohibition of discrimination. In Article 20, this Law 4 recognizes acts of discrimination disseminated through public media, as well as by writing, and the media landscape of Montenegro has passed through turbulent transition in last decade. From typical monistic society with only one state broadcaster and the single state owned newspaper, media in Montenegro have evolved into truly pluralistic and, according to many, somehow overcrowded and chaotic media landscape.


Number of active media is at disproportion with the country size, its population and state of economy.

According to the Agency for Electronic Media 16. April 2013, there were 16 commercial television stations and 38 commercial radio stations, along with the national public service broadcaster and 17 local public services (three television and 14 radio stations). For the past several years, the highest audience share holds privately owned, news oriented TV Vijesti, followed by PBS TVCG and TV PINK M, which is a part of Serbian media network. When it comes to print media, five dailies and one relevant political weekly magazine are published in Montenegro. Two major dailies, Vijesti and Dan have been unrivaled leaders for more than a decade. Despite the fact that media multitude provides not only colorful media output, but also a chance for all political camps to present their standpoints, serious lack of economic sustainability remains a major problem. Besides economic pressures, highly politicized and divided media environment remains futile ground for biases, which has been recognized also in Montenegro’s EU accession Progress reports 1. Editorial approach and level of journalist professional standards vary significantly from one media to another.


The online media market started developing intensively in recent years and is still a work in progress. Until 2009, the only major news portals were Café del Montenegro ( and the website of daily Vijesti. CdM focused on entertainment and forum discussions, with gradually stepping up with regular update of political and economic news. More hard-core news portal, Analitika ( appeared in 2009, and expanded its audience rapidly, attracting over a million visits during its first year of existence. Redesigned layout of the portal Vijesti ( was published in January 2011 and it rapidly raised the margin of visits making this portal leader in online news. Portal Refleksija appeared in 2013, on first place cultural, economic and political news.

However, if we take that Vijesti, as leading web portal, can reach 120000 daily unique visitors at most, in comparison to average of 160000 regular viewers of TV Vijesti’s prime time news, we may conclude that internet is still lagging behind television, which remains dominant news source. Major portal Vijesti have moderators in charge of filtering of comments. Once, in an interview, Milos Lalevic, representative of Ministry of culture’s media sector, reminded that Montenegrin media legislation already forbids all forms of Hate speech in media, but that improvements are likely to be made during the ongoing process of country’s negotiations for the accession to the European Union.


Montenegrin legislation does not recognize the term “hate speech on the Internet”. For this reason all examples of hate speech, from street graffiti to online media posts, should be processed by police and prosecution and severely punished in courts. Ombdusman in TV Vijesti said that the solution for combating online hate speech is to update the Codex of Journalists with principles relating to this specific sphere. In such way, media would be given clear rules to adhere to. As far as users are concerned, she argues that 12 sufficient procedure in case of offence is to give user a notice and, eventually blocking his access to portal.


Two years ago, the Prosecutor’s Office accused the editor-in-chief of the Montenegrin editions of the Belgrade-based paper, Novak Uskokovic, of the criminal offence of violating the reputation of minority people.

After violence erupted on the pitch at the Serbia-Albania match football match in Belgrade, the front page of the Montenegrin edition of the daily newspaper called Albanians “shiptari”- a derogatory and offensive term. The same issue also reported on a fight among pupils in a Montenegrin-Albanian high school in the capital Podgorica that was connected to the football match. Montenegro’s Basic Court twice banned distribution of several editions of Informer containing inflammatory content.

The paper claimed it had “proof” that the human rights activist, Vanja Calovic, director of the prominent NGO MANS, had had sexual relations with her two dogs.