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Statement regarding RSNA discussion on the RS Law on the Special Registry and Publicity of the Work of Non-Profit Organizations

Sarajevo, 20 May 2024 - The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mission) calls upon the relevant authorities in Republika Srpska (RS) not to proceed with the adoption of the Law on Special Registry and Publicity of the Work of Non-Profit Organizations, commonly referred to as the “Foreign Agents’ Law”. If enacted, this law would gravely violate fundamental freedoms in a manner that directly contravenes the international obligations undertaken by Bosnia and Herzegovina, including as an OSCE participating State, and thus of the RS.

As repeatedly highlighted, including by the 2023 Joint Opinion of the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe’s European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the Foreign Agents’ Law contravenes the constitutions of both the RS and BIH as well as numerous international and domestic human rights commitments. This law undermines the freedom of association, which is crucial for the functioning of diverse and inclusive civil society organizations, independent media and human rights defenders, all of which are essential for a healthy and participatory democracy.

The establishment of a special registry and the imposition of burdensome requirements on non-profit organizations further restricts democratic spaces already under attack by creating opportunities to target, demoralize and stigmatize members of civil society, independent media and human rights defenders. 

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