ASHGABAT, 5 July 2012 – Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, speaking from a media conference in Ashgabat, today urged the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina to turn to the Constitutional Court for clarification on the constitutionality of the Federation’s recent parliamentary decision on the public broadcaster’s steering board.
On 26 June, the House of Representatives of the Federation of BiH appointed three members to a “provisional steering board” of the public broadcaster RTV FBiH despite the absence of the concept of a “provisional” steering board in the Law on RTV FBiH. On 3 July, the upper house of the Federation Parliament, the House of Peoples, confirmed the decision of the House of Representatives.
“Given the fact that both houses of the Parliament – seemingly deliberately – ignored the law, it is important to turn to the Constitutional Court for its assessment. As not only the decision pertaining to RTV FBiH but the legitimacy of the session of the House of Representatives is being challenged, such a move would also allow for clarification on a broader scale,” Mijatović said.
In order to minimize the political control of the four-member steering board, the Law on RTV FBiH stipulates that only one member of the board may be appointed in one calendar year. This is to ensure that it would take four years to replace the entire steering board. An additional legal safeguard mechanism foresees that the steering board is always chaired by the member who is in the last year of his or her tenure.
“In the absence of legal provisions, the appointment of members to a “provisional” steering board cannot be considered legal,” Mijatović said in a letter of 2 July to the authorities, in which she urged the Parliament to annul the decision.
“The Parliament needs to ensure full transparency, respect for rule of law principles and adherence to international standards when appointing members to public institutions, including the public service broadcaster.”
In 2010 and 2011, the House of Representatives failed to appoint members to the steering board.