Freedom of the Press
Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Freedom of the press in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is guaranteed by the constitution as well as the human rights annex to the Dayton Peace Accords. Freedom of information is protected by law, but institutions are often slow to respond to journalists’ requests.
- An independent Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA) licenses and monitors broadcast media. The Press Council, a self-regulatory body for print outlets, responds to alleged violations of the Press Code. The state-level public broadcaster, BHRT, and the CRA faced political and financial pressure during the year, threatening their independence and effectiveness. The central government blocked the independently selected general director of the CRA from taking office, and the issue remained unresolved at year’s end. Meanwhile, Republika Srpska (RS) officials repeatedly attacked BHRT, urging residents not to pay the fees that supported it.
- The RS government led by Premier Milorad Dodik continued to increase pressure on independent media outlets, express hostility toward state-level and Federation public broadcasters, and use compliant RS-based outlets to attack its perceived political enemies.
- A dwindling number of independent media outlets in the RS reportedly faced surveillance, legal harassment, visits by tax officials, and other forms of pressure.
- The number of threats and physical attacks against journalists increased substantially in 2008. In one incident, a member of parliament assaulted three journalists while attempting to bar them from covering an April press conference by his Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina (SBiH). Three radio outlets and the magazine Dani received death threats linked to their coverage of a so-called Queer Festival on gay rights and related themes in September. In December, two hand grenades were thrown at the offices of television station NTV Hayat in Sarajevo, though no injuries were reported.
- Three major private television stations operate in the country, along with more than 40 small television and 140 minor radio stations. Print publications include half a dozen dailies and more than 40 weeklies and monthlies.
- Internet access is unrestricted, and although the number of users in BiH has increased dramatically in recent years, penetration remains at about 30 percent of the population.
Press Freedom Score