No provisions. Criminal defamation was repealed in Montenegro in 2011.
However, the following criminal provisions are worth noting:
Dissemination of information on personal and family life: Still a criminal offence in Montenegro is the “dissemination of information on personal and family life”, defined as the presentation or dissemination of information on anyone’s personal or family life that may harm his honour or reputation. It is punishable with a fine between €3,000 and €10,000 (Art. 197 of the Montenegrin Criminal Code). If this offence is committed through the media or other similar means or at a public gathering, the punishment increases to a fine between €5,000 and €14,000. Additionally, if the offence resulted in grave consequences for the offended person, the minimum fine is €8,000.
Offence to minorities: Art. 199 prescribes that whoever publicly exposes to mockery a nation, minority nation or other minority ethnic community living in Montenegro will be punished with a fine ranging from €3,000 to €10,000.
Offending honour and reputation through copyright violations: According to Art. 233(3) of the Criminal Code, anyone who without permission changes or re-makes someone else’s copyrighted work or recorded performance in a way that it offends the honour and reputation of the author shall be punished with a fine or an imprisonment for up to six months.
Criminal Defamation of Public Officials
Criminal Defamation of the Head of State
Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols
Publicly mocking the Republic of Montenegro, its flag, coat of arms or national anthem is a criminal offence under Art. 198 of the Montenegrin Criminal Code. The punishment is a fine or imprisonment for up to one year.
Criminal Defamation of Foreign Heads of State
Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols
Publicly exposing to mockery a foreign state or its flag, coat of arms of national anthem is a criminal offence under Art. 200 of the Montenegrin Criminal Code if Montenegro has diplomatic relations with that state. The punishment is a fine from €3,000 to €10,000. The same provision applies to publicly mocking the United Nations, International Red Cross or any other international organisation of which Montenegro is a member.
Criminal Defamation of the Deceased
However, Art. 202 of the Montenegrin Criminal Code (“Prosecution for Offences against Honour and Reputation”) states that if a defamation-related criminal offence is committed against a deceased person (offence of dissemination of information on personal and family life), prosecution may be initiated (via private action) by the spouse of the deceased or person cohabiting with the deceased, lineal descendant, adoptive parent, adopted child, or the
deceased person’s sibling.
Note that publicly inciting violence or hatred toward persons or groups based on, i.a., religion is an offence under Art. 370 of the Montenegrin Criminal Code, punishable with imprisonment from six months to five years. If the offence is committed by exposing religious symbols to mockery, the punishment will be a prison sentence ranging from one to eight years. These punishments are further increased (up to 10 years in prison in the case of exposing religious symbols to mockery) if these respective acts are followed by riots, violence or other severe consequences.
Criminal Defamation and Media
In 2011, Petar Komnenic, a Montenegrin journalist, was sentenced to pay a fine of €3,000 or serve four months in prison after being found guilty of libel over a 2007 story in the newspaper Monitor in which Komnenic reported that the Montenegrin authorities had placed several senior judges under unlawful surveillance. The charges were brought by the President of the High Court, Ivica Stankovic. Komnenic refused to pay the fine and appealed the prison term, with a second court stating that his sentence should be replaced by community service. However, in 2012 – a year after defamation had been decriminalised in Montenegro – the court confirmed the original sentence.
Recent Legal Changes
Criminal defamation and slander were repealed in Montenegro in 2011.
Notes and Acknowledgements
Information for Montenegro was originally collected by IPI as part of the “Out of Balance” report, published in January 2015 with support from the European Commission and incorporating research contributed by Center for Media, Data and Society at Central European University in Budapest and by the SHARE Foundation in Belgrade. This entry was later expanded and updated by IPI as part of a study commissioned by the Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
A fully footnoted version of this entry is available in the OSCE study. This entry was last updated in March 2017.
The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at info(at)ipi.media.