Republika Srpska President’s Office Bars Access for Selected Media

Update: 07 Mar 2017 No state reply yet Progress
Year 23 Jan 2017 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
23 Jan 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index , RSF Level 2
No state reply yet

On 18 January 2017, a TV news team from N1 Television was prevented by officials from attending and reporting on a press conference in Banja Luka by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska (RS) President Milorad Dodik. The reason given was that N1 did not have accreditation to enter the Palace of RS, the press conference venue. N1 TV was also removed from the mailing list of the President’s office, meaning that the company no longer receives any official notices, information or permission to access locations as necessary to report on the activities of the RS President. The Bosnia and Herzegovina Journalists Association (BHJA) and Free Media Help Line denounced these actions as unreasonable discrimination against a media enterprise which is known for its critical coverage. Beta news agency’s correspondent Ljiljana Kovacevic and employees of BN Television have also suffered bans which have blocked those news organisations from being able to report freely on the activities of Mr Dodik.

Progress In February 2017, the Presidency of the Republika Srpska re-approved access for journalists of BN Television. The case of Ljiljana Kovacevic from Beta news agency, denied accreditation and access since 2012, remains outstanding. Two requests for information on her case remain without reply.

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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