OSCE Mission to BiH expressed Concern regarding Amendments to the Law on Public Order and Peace

April 7, 2019 11:00 AM

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, and the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Bruce G. Berton, expressed their concerns today regarding new amendments to the Law on Public Order and Peace in the Bosnia and Herzegovina entity of Republika Srpska (RS).

Amendments to the Law on Public Order and Peace adopted by the RS Government on 28 March, which would introduce the offence of unauthorized photographing or recording that impedes officials while carrying out their duties, envisaging fines of up to 1,500 BAM (some 767 euros) or imprisonment up to 60 days, may adversely affect freedom of expression and assembly, they warned. The RS National Assembly will be voting on the amendments on 16 April.

“Such provisions, if adopted, could severely endanger an already challenging environment for media professionals,” said Désir. “They run against international media freedom standards. Journalists must work in a safe working and legal environment, in order to report on issues of public interest, including street demonstrations, protests and the work of law enforcement authorities. I call on the RS National Assembly to refrain from adopting these amendments, and instead to engage in constructive discussions with the media community and other relevant stakeholders in finding a proper solution.”

Ambassador Berton said: “Given the limiting nature and severity of proposed sanctions in the draft amendment to the Law, a more extensive consultation process with relevant stakeholders, including the public, is necessary. Journalists must be able to cover events of public interest without fear. In addition, under international human rights standards, every person should enjoy the right to attend, observe and record a public peaceful assembly, which includes the right to record actions of law enforcement officers. The OSCE Mission to BiH stands ready to provide support to the relevant authorities on this matter.”

The Representative offered his Office’s legal assistance on this issue, stressing that he will be following the process closely.

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