Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović today called for the withdrawal of draft amendments to the Criminal Code of the Bosnian entity of Republika Srpska, which re-criminalizes defamation, Vijesti.ba news agency reported March 5.
As Mijatović recalled, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) decriminalized defamation in 2003, and the changes proposed by the government of education will undo an important milestone in the development of freedom of expression and worsen the already alarming situation of repression of opposition opinions.
“Abusive lawsuits against journalists and human rights activists are already limiting the space for civic participation. Re-criminalizing defamation will only increase the trend towards stifling free speech ,” Mijatović said.
She noted that protecting reputation and privacy are important goals, but they should not come at the expense of other fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression, so legislators should uphold this principle and ensure that defamation is only addressed by proportionate civil sanctions. .
“This is both a human rights commitment and an important step in maintaining a democratic structure of society and free public debate ,” said Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.
Recall that the government of the Republika Srpska proposed to the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska a draft law on amendments to the Criminal Code, which provides for the introduction of extremely high penalties for defamation.
The amendments introduce new criminal offenses against honor and reputation, namely insult and slander. The Minister of Justice of the Republika Srpska, Milos Bukejlović, announced that fines for the above crimes would amount to between 5,000 and 50,000 marks.
Media associations as well as representatives of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina have already warned that this is an open stifling of media freedom and independent investigative journalism in this entity.
Source : rossaprimavera.ru