Sarajevo/Banja Luka, November 24, 2022 – The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association sends a public protest to the president of Republika Srpska and SNSD president Milorad Dodik and strongly condemns his verbal attacks on the public service BHRT and BN television.
At yesterday’s press conference, Dodik called BN “enemy television” and accused journalists and other employees of this media outlet of being “foreign spies”, paid by the American and British ambassadors. On Tuesday, Dodik wrote on Twitter and attacked BHRT public service, calling it a “Muslim service”, concluding that “it should not exist as such”.
The Steering Committee of BH Journalists reminds that this is just the latest in a series of verbal attacks by Milorad Dodik on media outlets and journalists in recent years. During his performance of high political positions in the country, Milorad Dodik became an infamous leader of arrogant and primitive communication with media professionals, abusing the power of public functions, insulting and falsely accusing journalists and media whose editorial policy does not suit him.
Targeting the media and journalists as “enemies” and “spies” and creating divisions of the media on national and religious grounds is especially dangerous at a time when the newly elected president of Republika Srpska announces that by the end of the year, changes to the Law on protection against defamation by which defamation will become a criminal offense will be adopted in that entity, as well as that the criminal offenses against the constitutional order of the RS will be expanded. It is no coincidence that Dodik’s latest verbal attacks on the media coincide with the announced changes of the Criminal Code and other laws in Republika Srpska. The president of this BH entity is clearly preparing legal instruments that will allow him future confrontations with “enemy” media outlets, journalists and all other free-thinking citizens, which includes the possibility that some of these journalists and citizens will end up behind bars.
The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association demands an immediate reaction from the OHR, OSCE Mission, Council of Europe Office and the Delegation of the European Union in BiH regarding the announced changes to the laws in Republika Srpska. Once again, we warn that if the aforementioned changes to the laws are adopted in the current political environment, it will undoubtedly mean a serious and heavy blow to the freedom of speech for the media, journalists and citizens not only in Republika Srpska, but in the entire Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association