NGOs will be classified as foreign agents.
The Republika Srpska Parliament on Thursday adopted a draft law on declaring foreign-funded non-profit organizations as foreign agents, although it was criticized by many people abroad and at home.
After the draft is approved, a public discussion about it begins for 30 days, and then Parliament must also approve the draft law prepared on the basis of the draft in order for the legislation to enter into force.
The new law would create a separate legal regime for NGOs receiving any foreign funding or other support of foreign origin, and their registration and maintenance would be subject to registration and financial reporting obligations. The legislation also prohibits foreign-influenced organizations from carrying out any political activity, meaning they cannot work for or with political parties, or conduct election campaign activities.
The idea has been criticized by the European Union, among others, because, in its opinion, it threatens non-profit organizations and does not create a safe environment for their activities. According to Bosnian NGOs, the new law is based on a 2012 Russian law used to suppress civil society and independent media in Russia. According to opposition representatives, the Bosnian Serb leadership is preparing to take similar steps, and the law would strengthen authoritarian rule.
However, according to the Bosnian Serb government, if foreign-funded organizations are not regulated, the country’s legal system could be at risk.
Milorad DodikThe President of Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina denied that the draft law had been drawn up based on the Russian model. As he said, the American Lobbying Act was taken as a basis.
This is not the first law that has caused anger in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the European Union. In the past, the parliament of the Serb-populated part of the country has also voted on legislation that ignores decisions of the Constitutional Court or the international high representative.
In the last two decades, Dodik has repeatedly defended the secession of his part of the country, and has succeeded in passing several laws strengthening the independence of Republika Srpska. Among them is the establishment of a tax and judicial system independent of the federal system.