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HomeAlbaniaBirn Explains: What Bosnian Serb ‘Foreign Agent Bill’ Means in Practice

Birn Explains: What Bosnian Serb ‘Foreign Agent Bill’ Means in Practice

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Civil society organisations in Bosnia’s mainly Serb-populated Republika Srpska entity are counting down the days until lawmakers begin debating a bill to restrict the work of non-profit organisations that receive foreign funding.

Critics of the bill, which appears inspired by similar legislation in Russia, say it smacks of authoritarianism and will have a major impact on the work of non-governmental organisations trying to protect democracy, media freedom, and human rights in Republika Srpska, one of two entities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The draft was adopted by the Republika Srpska government in late September and will go to the assembly once a public consultation period closes in mid-December.

If adopted by MPs, the legislation will create a special register of non-profits that receive funding from foreign entities, “regulating conditions and procedures for ensuring transparency in their operations”.

In practice, such organisations will have to submit semi-annual and annual financial reports detailing how much money they receive and from whom. Such organisations will be prohibited from engaging in political “activity” and gives the government discretion to declare them “agents of foreign influence”.

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