OSCE warns RS about draft on public peace and order

The draft Law on Public Peace and Order tabled for adoption at the next session of the RS assembly "could be used to limit free expression on social media."

Source: B92

This is what OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic stated in a letter sent to the speaker of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska (Serb Republic, RS) - the Serb entity in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The draft that will be on the agenda on February 3, "extends the definition of public place to the social media," an OSCE statement said, and added:

"If the law is adopted, under articles 7 and 8 it will become an offense through social media to disturb the public order, to display symbols, images, drawings or texts containing indecent, offensive or disturbing content, to insult or engage in rude or insolent behavior."

“By specifically including social media in this law, there is a danger that vague terms such as disturbing the public order and the like also could be used to sanction and limit free expression. Officials may be left to interpret what is considered disturbing or offensive, possibly leading to arbitrary or abusive charges," Mijatovic said.

Mijatović said that "freedom of expression online should be left to self-regulatory bodies to deal with, and that only in cases of incitement to violence should legal sanctions be considered as an appropriate measure."

“I call on the members of the National Assembly to consider the effect this proposal would have on free expression,” Mijatović said, adding that her office "would be prepared to assist the authorities to conduct a legal analysis to ensure the law would be in line with the OSCE commitments and international standards on freedom of expression."


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