09 September 2019 – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the undersigned organizations call on the Montenegrin authorities to acquit investigative journalist Jovo Martinović, convicted for marijuana smuggling and criminal association and sentenced to 18 months in prison despite overwhelming evidence that his only links with organized crime were those of a reporter.
A specialist in covering organized crime for such leading international media as The Economist, Financial Times, NPR, BBC and a winner of the 2018 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism, Jovo Martinović was convicted to a 18-month prison sentence by the Montenegro high court on January 15, 2019 on charges of drug trafficking and criminal association despite the overwhelming evidence that his contacts with organized crime were solely the results of his investigative reporting.
Martinović had been arrested on 22 October 2015 and held for almost 15 months before being finally freed provisionally. The appeal process will take place in the capital, Podgorica on September 12.
“While all eyes will be on the improvement in the field of the judiciary and the media situation in Montenegro during the EU-Western Balkans Media Days 2019 taking place in Podgorica this week, RSF calls on the authorities to acquit the investigative journalist Jovo Martinović and all international organizations and western governments to support this demand”, said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s European Union-Balkans desk.
“A decision of acquittal would be a great boon for the media freedoms and the rule of law that Montenegro aspires to conform to the EU standards. It’s time to stop prosecuting and intimidating investigative journalists working for freedom of information. If convicted again, Martinović would be the only jailed journalist in the EU-Balkan area,” Nora Wehofsits, Advocacy Officer of the ECPMF said.
The lack of justice and protection for free and independent media in Montenegro is cause for great concern and must be addressed with utmost urgency and determination because independent, pluralistic and strong media are cornerstones of any democratic society.
While Montenegro is still ranked 104th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, it is urgent to guarantee the prosecution of crimes against journalists, to address government interference in journalistic activity and lastly to combat incitement against journalists.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
Centre for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN-CG)
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Index on Censorship
International Press Institute (IPI)
Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
Ossigeno per l’informazione (Italy)
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)
Reporters Without Borders