High Representative (HR) Christian Schmidt has sent a letter to state parliamentarians asking them to pass “their” law banning genocide denial and hate speech, and then he would be ready to withdraw the imposed decision of his predecessor Valentin Inzko.
“I invite you to adopt a legislation in the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) that would bancertain forms of hate speech, including denial of any genocide and glorification of convicted war criminals,” Schmidt wrote at the beginning.
He said that we all know that non-recognition of mass crimes and human rights violations can have devastating consequences for society.
“In the last 150 years, the international community has committed itself to establish rules to avoid conflict and establishing humanitarian standards applicable in times of war and violent conflicts aiming at respecting humanity and care for those being affected, “ he wrote.
Further, he pointed out the following: ”The denial of well-documented and established facts about war –time events, including genocides, prevents societies from dealing with the collective past, perpetuates the abuse of victims and undermines efforts towards reconciliation and lasting peace. We should never politicize these abuses.”
“The amendment to the Criminal Code of BiH enacted in July 2021 follows this value-oriented approach. Legislative acts unfold their potential in promotion of social peace and reconciliation if, in parallel, a basic consensus exists in the society along with the youth as next generation, ” Schmidt said.
”I view the Parliament‘s role to try to pass its own legislation as political representation on this issue, ” he noted.
“It is preferable to use the democratic institutional process. This will not be easy and will require sober and consensus-minded preparation in Parliament and in the society. This requires involvement beyond political representatives as well. In this regard, I would appreciate the intention of the Parliament to substitute the Amendment to the Criminal Code enacted by the Parliament. I will be prepared to revoke this piece of legislation when a new legislation fully consistent with European and international standards adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH enters into force,” he stressed.
He also emphasized that first, the law refers to individuals who have committed war crimes and not to people or ethnic groups in their entirety. There is no other possible interpretation. Second, the law does not differentiate between ethnic backgrounds of the victims, every victim and their family deserve unconditional respect.