Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution of Montenegro. Article 47 of the Constitution clearly states that everyone is entitled to freedom of expression by speech, written word, painting or other forms. It can only be limited if it infringes right on dignity, reputation or honor of another person, or if it endangers the public moral or security of Montenegro. Although freedom of expression can be limited if it is directed towards someone’s dignity, reputation or honor, a person cannot be charged with libel, as it is not part of the Criminal Law anymore. It used to be Articles 195 and 196 of the Law, under the part Criminal Acts Against Honor and Reputation, but it not recognized by the Law as of 2011.
12.5% of surveyed organizations reported pressures for critical speech, and the same number reported pressures for engaging in activities targeting state policies. In addition, participants of informal groups reported that there were many pressures in regard with critical speech, whether on social media or during protests as the police created misdemeanor charges and they brought policemen to falsely testify.
Throughout 2019, there were several cases of individuals who were detained and/or sanctioned for posting hate speech on social media. These individuals mostly criticized authorities or high official. In addition, several journalists were arrested for publishing fake news which were focused on state policies. This fake news was labeled as “causing panic”. Journalists were later released, however some of them resigned from their positions as editors.
On the other hand, throughout the last several years many smear campaigns were directed towards CSO representatives. This practice continued in 2019 whereas several articles were issued in daily newspaper or portals against some CSO activists. Although these newspapers were usually connected with the ruling party (DPS), last year articles were published on the portal connected with the opposition party Democratic Front (DF).