Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik says the legislation will require foreign-financed organizations active in Republika Srpska -- the entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina that Dodik leads -- to report "everything they are doing" and has predicted it will pass.
The government of Republika Srpska has adopted a draft law that would require nonprofit organizations funded from abroad and active in Republika Srpska to register and report on their work.
The draft law, which is backed by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, was approved on March 23 by the government.
Dodik says the legislation will require foreign-financed organizations active in Republika Srpska -- the entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina that Dodik leads -- to report "everything they are doing" and has predicted it will pass.
A communique issued after the government approved the measure said existing law on associations and foundations funded from abroad regulate the founding, registration, inner organization, and cessation of their work, but not their transparency.
The communique said their political activity, the publication of financial reports, and the “supervision of the legality of their work and other provisions" are among the things that have not been regulated.
The government claims this gap in regulation creates a situation that could lead to "the collapse of the legal system and constitutional framework of [Republika Srpska], while harmful consequences are caused for the institutions and organizations of [Republika Srpska]."
The draft law now moves to the National Assembly of Republika Srpska for debate. This is to be followed by a two-month period for public discussion. An adapted version of the law would then return to the National Assembly for more discussion and a vote. If it passes, it would take effect with the signature of the president.
Dodik, leader of the largest political party in Republika Srpska, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), has previously said that the draft law is based on the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
A similar foreign agents law in Russia has proved controversial and has been used to disrupt the work of media organizations, including RFE/RL. Russia also claimed its law was in response to the FARA.
U.S. officials have argued that Russia uses its foreign agents law to silence dissent and discourage the free exchange of ideas and have said there is there "no equivalence" between Russia’s foreign agents law and the U.S. FARA.
Civil society organizations in Republika Srpska claim that the proposed foreign agents law has more in common with the Russian law than the U.S. FARA. They also said is about "establishing supervision and total control over the work of civil society."
According to the registry of associations and foundations, Bosnia has about 25,600 NGOs, including 7,500 based in Republika Srpska. There is no data on how many of them are financed from abroad.