Human Rights House Banja Luka: Public announcement regarding the criminalization of defamation

The adoption of amendments to the Criminal Code in the Republic of Srpska by the National Assembly of the Republic of Srpska represents an additional inappropriate, unnecessary, bad and too broadly defined limitation of freedom of expression and expression of free opinion and is certainly a big step backwards in progress towards a free and democratic society.

The parliamentary majority voted to return defamation to the criminal legislation, despite the clear and well-argued positions and protests of the media community, civil society organizations in the country and abroad, international institutions, and citizens.

It is clear the intention of the authorities in the Republic of Srpska to stifle any kind of criticism and any kind of different opinion, coming from the media, activists and citizens, by passing such an outdated and rigorous law.

It is especially dangerous to pass such a law in a society of young democracy and weak and incomplete institutions, where the judiciary is one of the weakest links subject to political pressure.

This decision endangers not only journalists, but also every citizen, to express any criticism on social networks or in a public place, and even in apartments or restaurants, because they can be criminally liable for criticism, jokes or seemingly harmless jokes.

These repressive changes stifle civil liberties, can easily lead to censorship and self-censorship, and deter citizens from using free expression. The adopted changes are another step towards autocracy and dictatorship!

This law is not in accordance with international human rights standards, so the Human Rights House Banja Luka, together with other organizations and individuals, will take all available legal measures to show that such a law has no place in the legal system of the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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