High Representative Valentin Inzko introduced amendments to the Bosnian Penal Code on July 23, sanctioning the glorification of war criminals convicted with final and binding judgments and the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the Office of the High Representative (OHR) said in a press release.
The amendments to the Bosnian Criminal Code aim to remedy the current legal framework of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which does not provide an adequate response to the problem of hate speech manifested by the denial of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, or even when those crimes have already been tried with final and binding judgments rendered by a number of national and international courts, the OHR said in the statement.
The High Representative’s decision was welcomed across much of Bosnia and the region, but also met with opposition from political representatives of Republika Srpska, the smaller of the two Bosnian entities. Milorad Dodik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency, initiated the signing of a petition to repeal the “Inzko law”, even threatening the secession of Repubika Srpska from Bosnia.
The US Embassy and NATO immediately responded to the threats, claiming that the actions or threats related to the break-up of Bosnia and Herzegovina are unacceptable and contrary to the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Bosnian constitution, which does not not give entities the right to secede. In response to Dodik’s petition, in the Bosnian Federation, the signing of a petition to arrest Dodik was immediately initiated, Oslobodjenje reported.
Srdjan Puhalo, a political analyst from Banja Luka, pointed out that there are provisions in the Serbian Penal Code that also prohibit the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Puhalo therefore sarcastically called on the Serbs to sign a petition and overturn this unjust law – not only in Bosnia but also in Serbia – and asked “if a million Germans sign a petition stating that the Holocaust had not been take place, does that mean that the Holocaust did not take place? do not arrive ?
Dodik himself claimed in 2007 that genocide had been committed in Srebrenica. “The genocide took place in Srebrenica! It was tried by the court in The Hague and it is an indisputable legal fact,” Dodik said in a statement which can be seen and heard at the video clip.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague ruled that the massacre of male residents of the Srebrenica enclave constituted genocide, a crime under international law. The ruling was also upheld by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2007.
Many members of the political and military establishment of Republika Srpska have been convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in previous years. Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, for example, was sentenced to life imprisonment, as were Ratko Mladic, military commander of the Bosnian Serbs during the war, nicknamed the Butcher of Bosnia, and several others.
Janusz Bugajski, US analyst and senior associate at the Center for European Policy Analysis, told TV Hayat that “the denial of proven war crimes and the denial of an international legal verdict for genocide are harmful forms of disinformation that incite misinformation. interethnic conflicts. This is particularly emphasized. for Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the pain and sorrow over crimes committed against innocent and unarmed civilians is still present. “
However, Russia has criticized Inzko’s actions. “We deeply feel the blatant and absolutely unacceptable interference of the outgoing High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko in the internal affairs of this sovereign and independent European state,” said a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.
“His actions are nothing but a blatant stretch of authority under the General Framework Agreement (Dayton) for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina of 1995 and a direct violation of the path to the delegation of all responsibilities to the Bosnian side which has been approved by the Peace Implementation Council. Steering Committee. Valentin Inzko’s illegal actions run counter to his Dayton mandate as an impartial and objective mediator. “
According to the provisions of the Dayton Agreement, senior representatives of the international community have the ability to impose certain measures. All of the previous senior officials have used these measures hundreds of times so far, from the imposition of laws to the impeachment of various politicians. This is why Puhalo has now reminded Dodik that he and his SNSD party applauded when High Representative Carlos Westendorp replaced Nikola Poplasen, a former Bosnian Serb politician and president of Republika Srpska from 1998 to 1999 on March 5, 1999. .
As many have pointed out, Inzko’s amendments to the Penal Code only prohibit the glorification of crimes for which international courts have already rendered final verdicts.
In a related development, Russia and China failed on July 22 in their attempt to get the UN Security Council to withdraw certain powers from the high representative. The resolution presented by Russia and China required 9 out of 13 votes, and the resolution received only two votes from both countries, Reuters reported.
Former German Minister Christian Schmidt is due to succeed Inzko on August 1.