European Federation of Journalists

Montenegrin investigative journalist Olivera Lakić shot and injured

The European and the International Federation of journalists (EFJ/IFJ) joined its Montenegrin affiliate, the Trade Union of Journalists of Montenegro (SMCG) in condemning the attack on Vijesti journalist Olivera Lakić, who was shot in the leg outside her home on 8 May 2018, in Podgorica.

She was taken to the hospital and remains in stable condition after a man shot her in the right leg, while two other men ran away, according to Vijesti’s editor-in-chief.

Olivera Lakić is working as an investigative journalist for the daily newspaper Vijesti. She is known for investigating crime and corruption in Montenegro. According to media reports she has written about alleged illegal businesses linked to top state officials and their families as well as Montenegro’s long-ruling Democratic Party of Socialists accused of corruption and crime.

This brutal attack is the second of its kind. Six years ago, Lakić was punched in the head multiple times after she wrote about alleged illegal dealings regarding a tobacco factory. The perpetrator was sentenced to jail and Olivera Lakić was under police protection for a while. But according to SMCG, the Montenegrin authorities neither investigated who ordered the threats and attacks against her nor did they follow-up Lakić’s claims regarding cigarette smuggling.

The SMCG board raised the alarm and urged the Montenegrin authorities to change the pattern when it comes to deal with journalists’ safety:

“It is clear that the perpetrators wanted to send her a message with this dishonorable attack to stop reporting on suspicious and criminal affairs as she has been doing for years. Relevant authorities and high officials last night swiftly condemned the attack, but we hope that it is finally clear to them that declarative statements will not be useful if the perpetrators are not found and prosecuted. We have a long and disgraceful history of impunity for attacks on journalists in Montenegro. It is time to stop this practice because since the worst case of attacks on journalists – the murder of Duško Jovanović in 2004 – the pattern has not significantly changed. Montenegro must not be synonymous for the place where the free word is threatened by bullets.”

EFJ president Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, said:

“I strongly condemn the attack on journalist Olivera Lakić which is aimed to silence her. Montenegrin authorities should swiftly investigate this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. In environments where journalists cannot pursue their job without fear for their life, democratic principles are at stake. This incident shows again the necessity for better protection of investigative journalists in Europe. The European Commission must follow-up on the European Parliament’s resolution and take effective measures for journalists simply exercising the public’s right to access information.”

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said

Last night’s shooting of Olivera Lakić sadly illustrates the level of intimidation and violence investigative journalists have to face. We urge the Montenegrin government to do its utmost to bring the attackers to justice. No one has the right to silence those who serve democracy and the public’s right to know.

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