In recent years, Montenegro has faced a visible trend of an increasing presence of hate speech. During 2020, freedom of expression was threatened by the authorities in connection with the COVID-19 crisis and election campaigns. Namely, a number of steps were taken that seriously violated the right to privacy and freedom of expression. In the first wave of the virus, the government took repressive steps to punish “misinformation” about the virus, adopting measures to combat the pandemic which they considered “fake news”. Due to the growing power of right-wing political parties, ethnic tensions are rising, especially among young people, while hate speech has reached the highest level of presence ever in Montenegrin society. On the other hand, there is still a lack of adequate reaction from the competent institutions in combating hate speech and false news in the media and on social networks.

This project will help democracy in Montenegro by increasing freedom of expression and combating hate speech, while at the same time representing a cohesion factor in the fragmented Montenegrin society. This will result in the opening of a more constructive space for all relevant parties who will be strengthened to deal effectively with the problems of hate speech and ethnic tensions in order to alleviate the polarization in society.

In this regard, the results of the project will be reflected in greater application of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the field of freedom of expression and other areas. In particular, the current situation on this issue will be analyzed and the capacities of relevant institutions will be strengthened, which will consequently reduce the number of Montenegrin cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Finally, the project will promote the rights of citizens and influence their better protection.

“Diagnosis and Therapy of Freedom of Expression, Hate Speech, and Ethnic Tensions” is conducted by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in partnership with the Media Institute and UL Info, and is supported by the European Union through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

The total value of this project is 172,526.80 euros and it will be implemented over the course of 18 months, starting from January 1, 2022.