Madrid, 4 Novmber 2014 – Access Info Europe today raised concerns about the future of freedom of expression and access to information in Montenegro in the wake of a media smear campaign against the Executive Director of Montenegrin anti-corruption NGO MANS, Vanja Calovic.
This is the second time this year the Montenegrin newspaper, the Informer, has conducted a campaign against Calovic which involves slurs of a sexual nature. The attacks started after MANS exposed several cases of corruption and organised crime in Montenegro. Calovic is also the independent evaluator for the Open Government Partnership’s Independent Reporting Mechanism of the Montenegrin Government’s action plan.
“There is clearly an attempt to compromise Vanja’s personal and professional integrity, as well to intimidate civil society which criticises the Montenegrin government and works for greater transparency,” commented Helen Darbishire, Executive Director of Access Info Europe.
Access Info Europe welcomed the condemnation of the attacks by various international organisations and NGOs, and called on the Montenegrin authorities to investigate the attacks as a matter of urgent priority.
“The failure to investigate such attacks would be a bad sign for the future of speech and government transparency in Montenegro, a country which aspires to membership of the European Union,” added Darbishire.
Access Info Europe noted that there is an obligation on the Montenegrin government under international human rights conventions and the Montenegrin Constitution to protect freedom of expression and information. This includes ensuring that those who speak out against corruption are protected.
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Helen Darbishire | Access Info Europe
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