19 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: 52/100 (2012)
The freedom of expression, the freedom of the media and the free flow of information are protected by law and guaranteed in the Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Article 2 and Annex).
Bosnia and Herzegovina’s score of 52/100 indicates that their print, broadcast, and internet-based media is currently ‘partly free.’ This score illustrates the efforts made by the authorities to ensure an enabling environment for freed media to operate and freedom of expression to be respected and promoted. Through the free flow of ideas, knowledge, information and content, these freedoms are the building blocks for the development of open and participatory societies as well as key enablers for creativity and cultural diversity.
An independent body, the Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA), oversees the work of the media and issues broadcasting licenses, as stipulated by the Law on Communication (Official Gazette of Bosnia and Herzegovina, no. 31/03). The CRA operates at the level of Bosnia and Herzegovina in accordance with general principles of legality, objectivity, transparency and non-discrimination and is entirely independent in the decision-making process. Although often exposed to political pressure, the agency is financially independent and its licensing decisions are generally seen as fair and impartial.
Nevertheless, key improvements remain in the current political and legal environments. While State legislation guarantees the freedom of expression, politicians have been reported to continue to exert considerable pressure on journalists, and media outlets continue to have ties with political parties. In spite of libel being officially decriminalized in 2003, journalists can still face civil penalties over libel complaints, and the burden of proof in such cases is placed on defendants. The Free Media Helpline, a program run by the Bosnia and Herzegovina Journalists’ Association, recorded 39 violations of journalists’ rights between January 1 and September 10, 2012, and noted an increase in threats and pressure by politicians since 2011. While legislation on the freedom of information is in place, certain government bodies continue to not observe the law, hindering access and making the process to obtain official data cumbersome.
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Bosnia & Herzegovina