In our changing times, public and political debate is particularly important. This is guaranteed by freedom of speech and of the press. The relevant legal framework and the appropriate conduct of constitutional courts therefore play a central role here. With this in mind, the Constitutional Court of Montenegro and the IRZ organised a conference on freedom of speech and of the press, which took place from 29 to 31 October in Bečići and was attended by representatives of various constitutional courts in the region.

The conference was opened by the President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro, Desanka Lopičić. The German Ambassador Gudrun Steinacker also gave a welcoming speech in the local language. She took the opportunity to play an active role in most of the conference.

The conference programme began with representatives of the participating Southeast European constitutional courts presenting the legal situation in their countries and the jurisdiction of their courts. This included reports from: Elena Goseva, President of the Constitutional Court of Macedonia, Mirsad Ćeman, President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hamdija Šakrinović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Montenegro, Dr. Sc. Mato Arlović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Croatia, and Tomislav Stojković, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Serbia.

Professor Udo Steiner, a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court then gave an introduction to the principles of jurisdiction at the German Federal Constitutional Court concerning freedom of speech and of the press, using four selected cases. All of the contributions were the subject of intense discussions, during which participants were able to gain a deeper insight into the different legal contexts during the course of the event.

One of the findings was that constitutional courts in Southeast Europe are increasingly following the jurisdiction of the ECtHR and refer to this extensively. At the same time, their decisions - including those overturning judgements passed by the ordinary courts against journalists due to their critical reporting on politicians and their circles - reveal that this is a topic with considerable practical relevance and that it requires the constitutional courts to keep a close eye on things to ensure that the basic right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press is upheld in practice