BIRN Albania Opens Call for Investigations on Labour Rights

BIRN Albania launched a call for investigative stories on labour rights on July 19.

BIRN is offering grants for three journalists to cover labour rights stories, with mentoring by experienced editors.

The call is held as part of the project ‘Strengthening Media’s Role in the Fight against Corruption’, supported by the Open Society Foundation in Albania.

The project aims to strengthen reporting on corruption in the country through cooperation with civil society, in order to help create a more informed citizenry that is engaged in the democratic process.

Three journalists will be awarded grants to cover their expenses while conducting investigations and writing their stories on labour rights.

The journalists will have around three months to dig deeper and research their ideas, and will also have the opportunity to work with experienced editors as mentors to guide them through the process of writing in accordance with BIRN standards.

The call only applies to journalists from Albania and closes on August 25, 2019.

Click here for more information (in Albanian) about the application procedure.

Click here to download the application form (in Albanian).

Albania Anti-Defamation Laws Condemned as ‘Censorship Package’

Ten Albanian human rights organisations on Friday denounced a government proposal to ‘regulate’ the online media as a ‘censorship package’ without precedent in a democratic country.

Ten human rights organisations in Albania on Friday denounced the Prime Minister’s initiative to “regulate the online media”, calling it “a censorship package”.

The Albanian Center for Quality Journalism, MediaLook, the Albanian Institute of Science, the Albanian Media Council, the Albanian Media Institute, the Association of Professional Journalists of Albania, BIRN Albania, Civil Rights Defenders, Res Publica and the Union Of Albanian Journalists urged the Socialist Party-led government to withdraw the proposal, arguing that current laws on defamation are sufficient.

“We encourage the government of Albania to withdraw these two bills and call on parliament not to approve them,” the statement reads.

“These drafts laws risk the increase of censorship and self-censorship in the local media and could contribute to further setbacks on media freedom and freedom of expression in Albania, which, based on the June 2019 assessment of seven international organizations, is ‘deteriorating,’” the statement adds.

The government of Prime Minister Edi Rama claims the country needs “to discipline” the online media in order “to improve the quality of the information and public discourse”.

This draft law gives the Complaints Council the power to oblige electronic publications service providers to publish an apology, remove content or insert a pop-up notice if they are found to have violated provisions on dignity and privacy.

This council has the power to fine media up to 8,300 euros for such violations. A second law subjects online media to the Telecommunication and Postal Authority, AKEP, which will have the power to insert pop-ups on websites if they have been found in breach of the law by the Complaints Council. Failure to comply with AKEP would result in fines up to 830,000 euros.

“These draft laws, in an unprecedented way in democratic countries, seek to impose a regime of administrative control on the online media,” the rights organizations say.

Link: Statement in English

BIRN Albania Holds Roundtable on Labour Rights

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania held a roundtable in Tirana on Monday, July 15th, bringing together journalists and non-governmental organizations to discuss labour rights.

The event was held as part of the project ‘Strengthening Media’s Role in the Fight Against Corruption,’ financed by the Open Society Foundation in Albania.  The project aims to strengthen reporting on corruption in the country through cooperation with civil society, in order to help create a more informed citizenry that is engaged in the democratic process.

The roundtable was moderated by Vasilika Laci from Civil Rights Defenders and saw contributions from a variety of activists, journalists and labour rights groups in Albania.

During the roundtable, the participants suggested a series of key topics to be investigated, including problems with the management of properties of unions, abuse of collective contracts in public companies, the cost of illegal dismissals of public servants, women’s unpaid work in Albania, abuse of labour subsidies, minimum wage and living income and many other topics.

The goal of the roundtable was to draw attention to an upcoming call for grant proposals to fund investigative reporting on the topic of labour rights. The call will be launched in the coming days by BIRN Albania.

Three journalists will be selected by an independent jury and will be mentored by BIRN editors for a period of three months as they produce hard-hitting investigative reports on the topic.

Updated Serbian Media Ownership Monitor Database Presented

BIRN Serbia held a presentation on Wednesday of its updated database of media ownership in Serbia, highlighting the increase of state influence on the media sector, as well as the increased influence of cable operators.

The database is available online  in Serbian and English.

The Media Ownership Monitor database covers 44 of the most influential media outlets in Serbia across four sectors – TV, radio, print and online – and provides information on their ownership structure, editorial, audience share and financial data.

In comparison to 2017, when the database was launched for the first time, a key structural change is the increased influence of cable operators in the media sector, specifically through the market battle between privately-owned SBB and state-owned Telekom Srbija.

The state has secured its position in the media sector through ownership of the public broadcasting system, as well as through the daily newspapers Politika and Vecernje novosti.

“The government, through the public broadcasting system and ownership of print media and their online outlets, is the only owner active in all four media sectors. Private owners tend to be divided between sectors. Major owners of TV outlets tend to have radio outlets as well, whereas publishers of print media tend to have online editions of their outlets,” said research coordinator Tanja Maksic.

Besides changes in ownership structure, the Media Ownership Monitor research measures indicators of risks to media pluralism through excessive concentration of ownership, according to methodology developed by Reporters without Borders. The indicators are available here.

The indicators suggest the risks in Serbia are high. The top four owners have more than 50 per cent of audience share and the top eight owners across all media sectors have audience shares of 74.88 per cent.

The indicators also show that majority of TV owners (with 55 per cent of audience share), radio owners (54 per cent of share) and print media owners (70 per cent of readership share) have known political connections.

Marcel Gascón Barberá

Based in Bucharest, Marcel covers current affairs and writes features, interviews and other content on Romania since June 2019, when he joined the Balkan Insight team.

Before joining BIRN, he has worked as a foreign correspondent for EFE Spanish News Agency in Romania, South Africa and Venezuela, and has been published as a freelancer in several Spanish and international publications.

He studied journalism in Madrid and Bucharest.

Marcel speaks Catalan, Spanish, English and Romanian.

BIRN Romania Publishes E-book About Moldova

Just after the dramatic change of government in Moldova, BIRN Romania has compiled all its recent reports on the situation into a free, downloadable e-book.

BIRN Romania published an e-book on July 1 entitled ‘N-ar fi rău să fie bine’ (‘It Would Not be Bad to be Good’), containing over 20 reports on Moldova, together with other relevant background information.

The e-book, which is published in Romanian, runs to more than 140 pages and is free to download.

Between September 2018 and June 2019, BIRN Romania conducted a project aimed at fostering mutual understanding between the peoples of Moldova and Romania via a series of human-interest stories (print and audio) on what it means to be citizens of these countries, separate states but yet so close in terms of history, culture and language.

A total of 12 journalists from Moldova and Romania have produced over 20 long-form, in-depth stories, including features, investigative reports and a podcast, which have been published locally and internationally.

The project was financially supported by the Black Sea Trust For Regional Cooperation (BST), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

To download the e-book, click here.

Hatidza Gusic

Based in Sarajevo’s BIRN Hub office, Hatidza manages media projects and oversees implementation activities, as well as the process of developing rulebooks, guidelines and modification of existing provisions. She also acts as a liaison for the Network in terms of capacity building.

Hatidza worked as a project manager for NGOs for various human rights and media projects, and most recently as a grants manager at Internews for the Balkans Media Assistance Program. She is a co-author of the book #ZeneBiH – an illustrated book about extraordinary women from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Hatidza has BA in Management from the Faculty of Economics, University of Sarajevo and MA/MSc – Joint Double Diploma Master Programme in Economics and Management of Public Sector and Environment.

She speaks Bosnian, English and Spanish.

Transitional Justice Correspondent from Ukraine

Rare and sought-after opportunity to join the flagship media portal in English reporting on the South and Central Europe, as a reporter based in Ukraine.

Regional BIRN Hub, based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is looking for a reporter from Ukraine, for its online publication, who will contribute to regional BIRN’s daily media output, Balkan Insight, through regular reporting on transitional justice themes from Ukraine.

Location: Ukraine / Kyiv

Job Function: Reporter

Experience Level: 3+ years

Working Languages: English

Application Deadline: 05/08/2019

Major duties and responsibilities:

  • Writing news stories, analysis, interviews, investigations and features on transitional justice issues in Ukraine, including, but not limited to war crimes, criminal justice, retributive legal processes, missing persons, gender-based violence, peace building and reconciliation efforts, memorialization efforts, role of the media, rehabilitation and revisionism, institutional reform and rule of law;
  • Courtside reporting, research, and daily courtside reports;
  • Research and write-up of analytical reports for the online publication;
  • Investigative reporting that includes research, interviews, data collection and analytical reporting;
  • Developing new ideas and topics for the Balkan Insight’s new subpage Justice Report;
  • Maintaining appropriate contacts with government offices and officials of various local and international organisations, necessary to ensure correct execution of the above duties;
  • Contributing to regional thematic stories.

Required profile:

  • Excellent command of the English language (writing, reading, comprehension, and speaking);
  • At least three years of experience with online, print or broadcast media or with project related to transitional justice;
  • Experience with international media preferable;
  • Special interest in transitional justice issues;
  • Strong interpersonal skills, dynamic, open, hard-working and committed personality;
  • Ability to work independently and pro-actively;
  • Ability to act as a team player in a deadline-driven environment;
  • Preferable advanced user of content management system, being responsible for uploading and illustrating own and other stories.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE:

Please submit a detailed CV, three of your best stories and a cover letter with three references, responding to the points raised in the job specifications by 5th of August 2019 to our regional operations unit, at [email protected]. Only the shortlisted candidates will be contacted. The selected candidate should start work as soon as possible.

Balkan Insight is published by the Sarajevo-based regional hub of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN). Balkan Insight is a network of correspondents based in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

BalkanInsight.com, one of 15 sites in different languages that BIRN runs, is read in more than 200 countries worldwide.

BIRN Hub is a nongovernmental organisation, a part of the Regional BIRN Network, working on in the field of media development, promoting freedom of speech, human rights and democratic values in Southern and Eastern Europe. BIRN has local organisations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, while the Network is editorially also present in Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Montenegro, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia. More information at www.birn.eu.com.

BIRN encourages applicants of both genders, and offers an equal chance to all interested persons, without any prejudice based on any grounds.

Annual and Financial Reports – BIRN Kosovo

The Annual Reports provide an overview of BIRN Kosovo’s activities throughout the given year.
The Financial Reports contain data on BIRN’s finances during a year as audited by an external certified auditor.

2018

Financial Report

2017

Financial Report

2016

Annual Report | Financial Report

2015

Annual Report

English versionAlbanian version

Financial Report

2014

Annual Report | Financial Report

2013

Annual Report | Financial Report

2012

Annual Report | Financial Report

2011

Financial Report

2010

Financial Report

2009

Financial Report

2008

Financial Report

European Court Probes BIRN Serbian Staffer’s Online Targeting

The European Court of Human Rights has asked the Serbian government to clarify what measures it took to ensure the safety of Sofija Todorovic – who has been subject to an online campaign of nationalist intimidation.

The European Court of Human Rights has asked both the Serbian government and a BIRN staffer, Sofija Todorovic, for more explanation, after she submitted a complaint to it about right-wingers who had targeted her online.

The court called on both sides to submit additional information and clarification by July 5.

Her lawyer called it a milestone. “This is the first time the European Court of Human Rights took into the consideration a case of online persecution in Serbia, defending human rights defenders,” Mihailo Pavlovic, who is representing Todorovic, told BIRN.

He noted that the court had raised the question of whether Serbia had any mechanisms to protect people from being targeted online.

In its letter copied to Todorovic on June 28, the court asked the Serbian government to send additional documents and explain what protective measure it had taken in this case, and whether it had assessed the level of risk to Todorovic’s safety.

It also asked the government to explain under which statutory conditions persons who have been threatened on social networks obtain police protection in Serbia.

Serbian right-wingers launched a concerted campaign against the BIRN project coordinator after she reported on the plight of an ethnic Albanian baker who was being targeted in her hometown.

She then herself became a target, receiving hate speech, insults and threats on social media coupled by attempts to hack her account on Twitter.

Todorovic took the matter to the Serbian police on May 6, and one day later she informed Serbia’s Special Prosecution for Cyber Crime. After submitting several complaints that elicited no reaction, Todorovic’s lawyer, Pavlovic, filed a complaint about the work of the Prosecution to the Court of Appeal.

When the Prosecution still failed to contact her, on June 24, she filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights with material.

The coordinated targeting began after Todorovic documented nationalist intimidation of an ethnic Albanian baker in Serbia called Mon Gjuraj. Nationalists first re-posted on Facebook a two-year-old picture of his cousin posing with a hand gesture in the shape of a double-headed eagle, the national symbol of Albanians.

On April 27, nationalists then gathered in front of his bakery in a Belgrade suburb, shouting slogans and playing Serbian nationalist songs. Some stuck posters proclaiming “Kosovo is Serbia” on the bakery windows, and threw a pig’s heads at the bakery – a reference to his being a Muslim. A similar event was organized again on May 4.

During the April 27 events, Todorovic was live tweeting and posting videos of the incidents.

Since then, she has received months of online threats. Right-wingers also posted videos about her, calling her insulting names, mentioning her family and re-posting old pictures that are no longer public.