U.S. Embassy Statement on Threats to Freedom of Expression

The U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo has communicated to both politicians and citizens of BiH our deep concern regarding proposed legislation on Public Peace and Order scheduled for debate by the Republika Srpska National Assembly, believing that it poses a direct challenge to the fundamental human right to freedom of expression.

The U.S. Government supports efforts to ensure individuals around the world can exercise their human rights in any forum, including the freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. We join with voices from across all sectors of society in BiH in expressing grave disappointment with this prospective setback for the citizens of the RS in these areas.

We view the law under discussion as the latest in a series of threats to free speech in BiH, to include not only how terms like slander and defamation are defined, but how laws regulating these acts are interpreted by the courts – increasingly compromising freedoms this nascent democracy desperately needs to fight corruption, ensure transparency and accountability, and otherwise strengthen rule of law.