The EU is seriously concerned about the recent legislative initiatives and announcements in the Republika Srpska (RS) entity that run counter to the EU path of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the draft Law on the Special Registry and Publicity of the Work of Non-Profit Organisations labelling NGOs as “foreign agents” which has been now adopted in first reading by the Republika Srpska National Assembly.
The final adoption of the Law would directly contradict the repeated commitments of the Republika Srpska leadership to advance Bosnia and Herzegovina’s European integration, and specifically key priority 11 on civil society and key priority 12 on freedom of expression and of the media.
We call on the delegates in the RS National Assembly to reconsider and not move forward with this draft law.
Respect for human rights, freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism, as well as an environment enabling civil society organisations to freely operate are key pillars of a democratic society. We deplore the recent entry into force of amendments to the criminal code of Republika Srpska, reintroducing criminal penalties for defamation, which has imposed unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on independent media and civil society, and constitute a regrettable and undeniable major step backwards in the protection of fundamental rights.
They go against the expectations that accompanied the granting of EU candidate status, and run against interests of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including those resident in the Republika Srpska entity. These steps go also against basic EU principles.
The EU expects all authorities to work constructively to address the European Commission Opinion key priorities, which are necessary for the Commission to recommend opening of EU accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.