The Aarhus Center in Bosnia and Herzegovina launched an initiative to enact a law on citizens’ initiative and protection of citizens and activists at the level of the Sarajevo Canton (KS), FENA learns from the center.
Considering the legislative disorder that treats this area in the Federation of BiH, the center points out that the idea is to send the initiative to the level of the Federation of BiH in cooperation with other Eco HUBs, as well as other interested associations.
They claim that numerous environmental problems are solved at the local level, in municipalities and local communities, and that during the implementation of these activities, citizens and activists encounter various problems.
“One of the key problems is legal non-compliance. The RS has had the Law on Referendum and Citizen Initiative for thirteen years, while similar law still does not exist in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor separately at the cantonal level.
This is a big problem due to the fact that there are no harmonized rules on how to prepare a citizens’ initiative, how to collect citizens’ signatures, nor protective mechanisms in relation to the protection of citizens and activists who seek to start a debate on an issue of public interest, such as environmental protection and the like,” stated the Aarhus Center in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
They say that in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the issue of citizens’ initiative is more closely regulated at the level of municipalities, where all municipalities foresee in their statutes the obligation to collect unique ID numbers of the signatories of the initiative in order for the submitted citizens’ initiative to be valid, which is in contradiction with the Law on the Protection of Personal Data.
Within those initiatives, a special focus is placed on the so-called “SLAPP” lawsuits – strategic lawsuits against public participation.
“Such lawsuits are decisively directed against activists in order to burden them with the cost of a legal battle until they give up criticism and opposition and participation in civic initiatives, or expressing opinions on a certain topic and organizing civic activities, which aim to start a public discussion about issues of public interest, and all with the aim of censorship, intimidation and silencing them,” the center pointed out.
Director of the Resource Aarhus Center in BiH Emina Veljović said that by adopting these laws, the Federation of BiH would take a leading position in the world in relation to ANTI-SLAPP lawsuits, which would enable all citizens to have a clear and safe legal framework to exercise their basic rights within a democratic society through civic initiatives.