IA and Human Rights Action

Appeal to withdraw proposition of Law on electronic communications from parliamentary procedure

Having in mind that Parliament on its assembly on Monday, 21.07.2008., beyond schedule discussed the governments proposition of Law on electronic communications, as well as the fact that voting on this proposal will take place next week, NGOs Human Rights Action and Institute Alternative, urge the responsible members of Parliament to withdraw this proposal from parliamentary procedure and return it to the public debate stage, because its adoption would cause diminishing of right to free information in Montenegro.

The solution from the proposition of the Law on electronic communications, which implies that the new Agency for electronic communications and postal activity, which is in charge of giving permissions for broadcasting television and radio signal, is founded and supervised by the Government, is a danger to the existing level of freedom of informing in Montenegro and is endangering the development of free electronic medias.

We support critics made on the account of this law proposal by the Council and director of the Agency for broadcasting, as well as by the representatives of the General directorate of the European Commission for informatics society, which were all stating that the proposition is isn’t in line with acquis communitaire and standards of the EU, nor with recommendations from European Partnership and obligations from the Stabilization and Association Agreement. We remind the public on recent statement made by the representative of the OSCE for freedom of the press, Miklos Haraszti, in which he expressed his concern with this, and recommended starting a public debate on this law proposition.

Montenegro has committed its-self by the Charter of human and minority rights of Serbia and Montenegro, that it will not diminish achieved level of human rights guaranties, and although this guarantee unfortunately didn’t make it into the Constitution, we urge that it must be respected because of the dignity of Montenegrin citizens and their European future.

Human Rights Action and Institute Alternative

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By adopting proposition of Law of electronic communications, some of the norms from existing Law on tele-communications and Law on broadcasting would be annulled, while the existing Agency for telecommunications and technical division of Agency for broadcasting, who decide on allocation of frequencies, would be replaced by Agency for electronic communications and postal activity, which is, in contrast to previously mentioned agencies, founded and controlled by the Government. According to the Law in force, Agency for broadcasting is an independent body managed by the Council, whose members, respected experts, are nominated by the Government, University, broadcasting associations, NGOs from the human rights and media orientation, while the Parliament is only obliged to confirm nominations. According to the new Law on electronic communications, president and members of the Council of the Agency are nominated by the Government, to whom they are responsible as well.

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