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Bosnian Serb Deputies Approve Laws To Block UN Envoy's Genocide Denial Ban

Outgoing High Representative Valentin Inzko amended Bosnia's constitution to prohibit the denial of genocide.

Lawmakers in Republika Srpska, the Serb-controlled region of Bosnia-Herzegovina, have approved two new laws to block a decision last week by the outgoing UN high representative for Bosnia to ban genocide denial.

A total of 70 deputies of the 73 present in the National Assembly of the Republika Srpska on July 30 approved the laws a week after UN High Representative for Bosnia Valentin Inzko amended Bosnia's constitution to prohibit the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes and introduce prison sentences of up to five years for genocide deniers and for any glorification of war criminals.

Inzko, who has the authority to impose decisions or dismiss officials, had explained the move saying that “there is no reconciliation without the recognition of crimes and without responsibility.”

"Both laws were adopted by the votes of all parties that are located in Republika Srpska. With these decisions, the implementation of Inzko's decision will not be possible," said Nedeljko Cubrilovic, the president of the assembly.

He called Inzko's decision "wrong" and said it complicated the situation in the country.

"With this decision, he pushed Bosnia-Herzegovina into its biggest crisis since the war," Cubrilovic said at a press conference after the session.

Under the 1995 Dayton agreement that ended Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, two entities -- a Muslim-Croat federation and the predominantly Serbian Republika Srpska -- are held together by the joint central institutions.

Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia’s joint presidency, has claimed that the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in which some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces “did not take place” even though the massacre has been deemed genocide by various verdicts of both the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Inzko's decision came only a week before the end of his term. After 12 years in office, Inzko is handing over to Christian Schmidt, a German, on August 1.