Serb Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik
picture alliance / AA | Serhat Cagdas

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Recommendations to national and entity level authorities to improve media freedom standards

Following a fact-finding mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in October 2023, the partner organisations of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) published a report assessing the state of media freedom in three key areas: the legislative initiatives, the safety of journalists, and the public service media.

The report includes a set of recommendations to national and entity level authorities and the international community, which we believe are vital for the country’s democratic development and accession process to the European Union. We invite other media freedom and journalists’ organisations to support by adding their signatures using the button below.


Specific recommendations to Republika Srpska authorities

  • Immediately repeal the legislative provisions that re-criminalised defamation in Republika Srpska;
  • Discontinue all criminal cases that have been initiated on the basis of the criminal defamation law;
  • Prioritise media self-regulation in addressing defamation concerns, particularly the right of reply and correction, and ensure that civil defamation laws contain safeguards against SLAPPs and other abuses;
  • End all intimidating practices against journalists and media actors by public officials, including verbal attacks, smears, harassment and threats
  • Publicly condemn, investigate and effectively prosecute all criminal attacks on journalists and media outlets;
  • Immediately and definitively withdraw the “foreign agent” draft legislation and refrain from imposing any discriminatory regulatory requirements for civil society organisations or media based on the origin of the funding that they receive;
  • Ensure an inclusive, transparent and human rights rooted process in the drafting of the pending media law
  • End all interference with the RTRS’s editorial policy, so that journalists and editors are free to work in the interest of the public in the Republic of Srpska and apply the recommendations of the Council of Europe on the obligations of public broadcasting and the availability of accurate, objective, plural and balanced information;
  • In line with existing legislation on the Public Broadcasting System to Bosnia and Herzegovina, take appropriate steps to ensure that RTRS pays its fair and legally mandated contribution to the public broadcaster at state level BHRT.


Recommendations to state, entity and district authorities

  • Immediately and definitively revoke any kind of regulation of journalistic reporting or other expressions based on their perceived veracity, including ‘fake news’ regulations, at any level of government in Bosnia;
  • Ensure an inclusive, transparent, and human rights based approach in the development of any legislative initiatives that concern the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of information at any level of government in Bosnia;
  • Promote proactive disclosure of government-held information and ensure a viable system of requests for information of public interest with narrowly construed exceptions and an effective appeal mechanism;
  • Refrain from promulgating regulations that obstruct media and NGO work by creating excessive administrative requirements such as onerous reporting, registration, or public disclosure rules;
  • Develop a national-level safety plan to advance media freedoms and protection of journalists, involving police and prosecutorial authorities, in cooperation with journalist associations, media groups and international organisations
  • Publicly condemn, investigate, and prosecute any and all serious physical and verbal attacks on journalists and media outlets;
  • Ensure an effective system of remedy and reparation for journalists who become victims of attacks;
  • Uphold the fundamental principle that any regulation of the media should only be undertaken by bodies which are independent of the government, which are publicly accountable, and which operate transparently;
  • Restore public trust in the media through providing support for professional and ethical reporting, especially with the introduction of media and information literacy in formal education and providing opportunities for training journalists on access to information, digital security or physical safety.
  • Guarantee long-term and sustainable financing for the national and entity level public service broadcasters under the media law and provide professional support to journalists working within public media to cope with workplace stress;
  • Guarantee editorial and institutional independence of public service media
  • Ensure adequate financing for the Communication Regulatory Agency and strengthen the body’s independence by guaranteeing independent and fair elections of its board members based on strict professional criteria and relevant experience, rather than political considerations;
  • Work with the BH Journalists Association to develop and pass national law on media ownership, including stronger regulations on the transparency beneficial ownership and the prevention of undue media concentration;
  • Implement a new law overseeing the allocation of public advertising and all other forms of state subsidies to public service, commercial, and community media on strict criteria, to ensure transparent and equitable distribution based on clear market principles rather than political affiliation;
  • Bolster independent and watchdog journalism and local media, establish a public fund for pluralistic journalism, administered on an annual basis by an independent body on a grant-basis, with a public database detailing the allocation of funding for journalistic projects on the basis of transparent, fair and neutral criteria.


Recommendations to the international community

  • Closely coordinate and unify positions and strategies among international organisations based in Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve media freedom and journalists’ safety;
  • Systematically stand in solidarity with attacked journalists and media outlets and support remedy and reparation options for the victims of attacks;
  • Provide deeper support to independent quality journalism in Bosnia, including through grants, training, and media literacy programmes;
  • Robustly use diplomatic leverage to uphold media freedom and freedom of expression in the country;
  • Make media freedom and freedom of expression a top priority in the EU accession negotiations.


ARTICLE 19 Europe 

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

International Press Institute (IPI)

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)

Trade Union of Croatian Journalists

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries. 

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