Media Freedom Coalition statement on the declining freedom of media in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The MFC has expedited the process of developing, consulting on, and publishing this joint statement. Because of this, further member countries may sign the statement after publication. This page will be updated when new countries join.

The undersigned members of the Media Freedom Coalition express their deep concern about the declining freedom of the media and independent voices in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Freedom of expression, press freedom and the safety of journalists and media workers are indispensable for the flourishing of free, pluralistic, inclusive and democratic societies.

Recent legislative changes in the Republika Srpska entity to re-criminalise defamation restrict the ability of journalists to do their job – create a “chilling effect” on freedom of expression, and limit the flow of independent information. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Constitution pledges to ensure the highest level of internationally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms. This commitment must be incorporated into all relevant legislation across the country, in both entities and Brcko District. Such moves contravene this promise.

This alarming trend in Bosnia and Herzegovina reflects a global pattern the misuse of defamation lawsuits and other legal mechanisms is employed to silence journalists, increase self-censorship, and stifle independent media, thereby posing a grave threat to the core principles of democracy and human rights worldwide.

Furthermore, we are deeply concerned about the increasing frequency and severity of attacks on journalists. The Free Media Help Line of BH Journalists Association has recorded 344 attacks on journalists since 2019, which includes a 137% increase in threats and incitements against journalists in 2022 compared to 2021. We strongly condemn the increasing number of attacks against journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These include, among others, the physical attack on Mirza Dervišević, owner of the times.ba web portal, vandalism of the cars of two journalists, Nikola Morača (EuroBlic and SrpskaInfo) and Aleksandar Trifunović (Buka), and death threats and nationalistic insults against Kenan Ćosić, his team and family (Oslobodjenje and O Kanal TV) after his interview with a controversial documentary maker. 

We condemn the harsh and irresponsible rhetoric of some politicians, particularly in the Republika Srpska, and the physical and online violence experienced by many in the media.

The members of the Coalition call on all levels of authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to end repression and the stifling of independent journalism in all its forms, including through the use of inflammatory rhetoric against media, to address the culture of impunity, ensure accountability and to create an enabling environment with legal and institutional protections for international human rights, in which free, independent media can flourish.

Signed: 

Australia
Austria
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Czechia
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Iceland
Ireland
Japan
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Norway
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
the Netherlands
the United Kingdom
the United States

Share
Most recent Statements