International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

OSCE condemns RS entity's plan to criminalize defamation

March 4, 2023

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, and Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ambassador Brian Aggeler, condemned the BiH entity Republika Srpska (RS) Government’s decision to move forward with reinstating the criminal offence of defamation in the RS Criminal Code.

“In 2001, Bosnia and Herzegovina was the first country in the region to decriminalize defamation across its entire territory. In this context, we see this as a step backwards in an already fragile media freedom environment in the entity of the RS where only a handful of free and independent outlets are operating today,” OSCE officials said.

They noted that this worrying development is unfolding despite recent assurances by the RS Ministry of Justice that the Government was not aiming to work on amendments to the RS Criminal Code as first announced by RS President Milorad Dodik in late 2022.

“Once again, we reiterate that such moves go against international standards and best practices and will further erode the overall media freedom situation in the RS,” OSCE’s statement said.

“We will closely monitor this situation in accordance with our mandates. We will also continue to remain available for constructive dialogue and guidance with all concerned stakeholders. The RS authorities have a responsibility to ensure an inclusive, constructive and transparent public debate on any amendments that may impact media freedom in the entity,” Ribeiro and Aggeler concluded.

The RS Government presented on Thursday the Draft Law on Amendments to the Criminal Code of RS, introducing new criminal offences against honour and reputation, i.e. the criminal offence of insult and defamation. Entity Minister of Justice Milos Bukejlovic announced that fines for the aforementioned crimes will range from 5,000 to 50,000 BAM.

Source:  https://n1info.ba/english/news/osce-condemns-rs-entitys-plan-to-criminalize-defamation/ 

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