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    Law on Protection from Defamation for FBiH Imposition Decision

    01.11.2002

    In the exercise of the powers vested in the High Representative by Article V of Annex 10 (Agreement on Civilian Implementation of the Peace Settlement) to the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to which the High Representative is the final authority in theatre regarding interpretation of the said Agreement on the Civilian Implementation of the Peace Settlement;

    and considering in particular Article II.1.(d) of the last said Agreement, according to the terms of which the High Representative shall “Facilitate, as the High Representative judges necessary, the resolution of any difficulties arising in connection with civilian implementation”;

    Recalling paragraph XI.2 of the Conclusions of the Peace Implementation Conference held in Bonn on 9 and 10 December 1997, in which the Peace Implementation Council welcomed the High Representative’s intention to use his final authority in theatre regarding interpretation of the Agreement on the Civilian Implementation of the Peace Settlement in order to facilitate the resolution of any difficulties as aforesaid “by making binding decisions, as he judges necessary” on certain issues including (under sub-paragraph (c) thereof) “measures to ensure implementation of the Peace Agreement throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Entities”;

    Noting that since its inception, the Peace Implementation Council has consistently acknowledged that freedom of expression is an essential step in developing democratic institutions and serves as a cornerstone of democracy;

    Recalling that the Peace Implementation Council in the Madrid Declaration of December 1998 noted the need for coordination in the creation of a supportive legal framework required to allow journalists to work professionally, independently and with security and supported the efforts by the High Representative and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to protect and promote media freedom;

    Bearing in mind that consistent with the exhortations of the Peace Implementation Council and as a result of the failure of both State and Entity officials to adopt appropriate legislation to protect journalists’ freedom of expression and movement, the High Representative issued the Decision on Freedom of Information and Decriminalising of Libel and Defamation (O.G. Bosnia and Herzegovina No 14/99);

    Further bearing in mind that the said Decision suspended, in the Entities’ criminal codes, the sanction of imprisonment for defamation, libel and slander and required both Entities to adopt the necessary legislation to create civil remedies therefor in accordance with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and further required both Entities to repeal the relevant criminal provisions once the civil legislation was adopted;

    Noting that the Peace Implementation Council in the Annex to its Declaration of May 2000 demanded that the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina act promptly to adopt legislation that supports the public’s right to access and impart information, namely, Freedom of Access to Information and Defamation laws;

    Recalling that subsequent to the said Decision, a joint working group consisting of national and international experts jointly led by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Office of the High Representative, created draft laws for both Entities on protection against defamation;

    Recalling that the resulting draft legislation was discussed and adopted by the Republika Srpska National Assembly in July 2001 (O.G. Republika Srpska No 37/01) but that despite having progressed through the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the proposed law stage, the draft legislation was not adopted;

    Noting that several meetings over the last ten (10) months between members of the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federation Ombudsman, the Office of the High Representative and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe regarding revitalising the legislative process on the draft law resulted in the Government adopting the said Law;

    Further noting that the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina failed to adopt the legislation as adopted and forwarded to it by the Government; Recalling that both the above referenced Ombudsman and the Coordination of the Associations of Journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina publicly called for the adoption of the draft law in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina;

    Considering the unacceptable legal discrepancy between the Entities with regard to the criminality of defamation and the resulting discrimination against residents of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina;

    Acknowledging the recent efforts of the Entities to establish equality through constitutional amendments and noting that it is unacceptable to allow residents of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to be disadvantaged in relation to the residents of Republika Srpska;

    Having taken into account and considered the totality of the matters aforesaid, the High Representative hereby issues the following:

    DECISION

    Enacting the Law on Protection Against Defamation of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    The Law on Protection Against Defamation of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as hereinafter set out and which forms an integral part of the Decision herein is hereby enacted. The said Law shall enter into force pursuant to Article 17 thereof but on an interim basis, until such time as the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina adopts the same in due form, without amendment and with no conditions attached. This Decision shall come into force forthwith and shall be published without delay in the Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Sarajevo, 1 November 2002

    Paddy Ashdown High Representative

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