BIRN BiH Launches Guidebook to Local War Crimes Court & Court Reporter’s Association

More than 70 representatives of the Court of BiH, the media and local governmental and non-governmental organizations attended the promotion in Sarajevo’s Art Gallery, which was sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, KAS.

The guidebook was produced by BIRN BiH as part of its 2005 Justice Project during which more than 30 journalists and 200 NGOs were trained and prepared to follow the work of the local War Crimes Chamber.

So far the only text on the new court, it has been given out to media and NGOs throughout the country and the region. It will soon be accessible on-line on BIRN’s website.

At the same event, BIRN and KAS, together with local journalists announced the formation of a Court Reporter’s Association, CRA. Under the guidance of BIRN and in partnership with KAS, CRA will in 2006 keep working to improve the relationship between the media and court.

BIRN BiH also presented its activities for 2006, which include creating a specialised news agency to follow trials at the Court of BiH, a series of conferences on justice and reconciliation throughout BiH, and engagement of the country’s considerable diaspora in the justice process.

For more information on BIRN BiH’s Justice projects, please contact Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN Documentary gets own Website

To respond to the phenomenal interest shown in BIRN’s latest film, Does Anyone Have a Plan?, a new area has been added to the Network’s website.

The documentary on the regional context for Kosovo’s status talks, first screened on January 9, has provoked a lively debate at its cinema screenings.

To make the most of the opportunities it brings for open dialogue on this highly-charged issue, BIRN is publishing the full body of material it researched in making the film – an invaluable resource for media, researchers and others.

Visitors to BIRN’s site will soon find full transcripts of all interviews in several languages, a range of video clips, the film’s trailer, information on how the film was made, and reactions from viewers. A discussion forum will be added, as well as information on TV broadcasts, festival entries and buying and showing the film.

The documentary was made with a grant from the Swiss foreign ministry.

For more information on this project, contact BIRN Regional Network Director, Anna McTaggart.

BIRN Regional Network Board to Meet

The members of BIRN’s regional board are to meet in Sarajevo from February 18 to 23.

At this, its first official meeting since BIRN was fully launched last autumn as an independent organisation, the Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart will report on activities to date and issues for 2006.

The Board will also instruct the Director on the further strengthening of inter-organisational relations between the seven members of the BIRN Network.

For more information on the BIRN Network, please contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

Montenegro training course in Podgorica II

Nine Montenegrin journalists from a number of media outlets around the country took part in a primary level journalism course organised by BIRN Serbia and Montenegro at the PR Centre in Podgorica between February 24-28.

The course, the first step in the establishment of a network of BIRN journalists in Montenegro, was launched at a press conference attended by several TV and radio stations, along with Dragana Nikolic Solomon, BIRN Serbia and Montenegro director, Gordana Igric, BIRN development director, Dragana Obradovic Zarkovic, BIRN project co-ordinator, Marcus Tanner, BIRN Balkan editor and trainer, and BIRN guest Tim Judah.

The participants were: Petar Komnenic, Monitor magazine; Nedjeljko Rudovic, Vijesti; Sead Sadikovic, freelance journalist; Tufik Softic, editor of Radio Berane; Zeljko Madzgalj, editor of Polje; Samir Adrovic, bureau chief of Vijesti in Ulcinj; Izedina Adzovic, Radio Tuzi; Nikola Doncic, Monitor correspondent in Kotor; and Marijana Camovic, correspondent of Vijesti in Tuzi. Bojana Stanisic of Dan was unable to attend, but is to take part in future training programmes.

Judah opened the course with a lecture on reporting from war zones as a freelance journalist. He spoke of his own such experiences in the Balkans, Iraq and Uganda, giving practical tips on how to cover conflicts.

Nikolic-Solomon followed with a short introduction to BIRN and its editing and commissioning processes. She explained why it is essential for BIRN to adhere to international journalistic standards and why they are helpful, especially for Balkan journalists.

Igric spoke about international libel laws, which all local journalists need to be acquainted with if they hope to published in international and local editions of BIRN. She also instructed course participants on how to write news analysis, emphasising the need to ensure balance and make clear distinctions between fact and opinion.

Tanner concentrated on feature writing, focusing on article structure and commonly-made mistakes. He also provided examples of striking feature writing.

Gertraud Illermeir, Belgrade correspondent of Die Presse, gave valuable insights into the role of the foreign correspondent.

Following the theoretical part of the course, Tanner, Nikolic-Solomon and Igric took part in one-to-one training and commissioned stories from participants, which will feature in a special Montenegro package due to be published by BIRN at the end of March.

The second part of the course is scheduled to take place in Budva, following the vote on Montenegrin independence slated for May 21.

Petar Komnenic,who attended the course, said, “I liked the course because it was informative and practical. I was especially impressed by Tim Judah’s lecture. I hope that I will be able to cooperate with BIRN in the future.”

Montenegro training course in Podgorica

Nine Montenegrin journalists from a range of towns and media outlets took part in a primary level journalism course organised by BIRN Serbia and Montenegro at the PR Centre in Podgorica from February 24-28.

The course, the first step in the establishment of a network of BIRN journalists in Montenegro, was launched at a press conference attended by several TV and radio stations. Trainers included Dragana Nikolic Solomon, BIRN SaM director, Gordana Igric, BIRN development director, Marcus Tanner, BIRN trainer-editor, Balkan analyst Tim Judah and Gertraud Illermeir, Belgrade correspondent for Die Presse.

Following the theoretical part of the course, Tanner, Nikolic-Solomon and Igric gave one-to-one training and commissioned stories from participants, which will feature in a special Montenegro package due to be published by BIRN at the end of March.

The second part of the course is scheduled to take place in Budva, following the vote on Montenegrin independence slated for May 21.

Participant Petar Komnenic, a Monitor magazine journalist, said, “I liked the course because it was informative and practical. I was especially impressed by Tim Judah’s lecture. I hope that I will be able to cooperate with BIRN in the future.”

The event took place as part of BIRN SaM’s Minority Training and Reporting project, which is supported by the British Embassy in Belgrade.

For more information on this project, contact BIRN BiH Director Dragana Nikolic-Solomon.

Next TV Debate to Focus on Women

BIRN Kosovo will present the next in a series of televised debates on March 15 at 22:00 on RTK, focussing on successful women of Kosovo.

Mimoza Kusari, executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce, Shejnaze Bekteshi, who has quintuplets, and Adelina Ismaili, a well known singer, will discuss their achievements and the paths they took to arrive at them.

For more information on this project, contact BIRN Kosovo Director Jeta Xharra.

This project is supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy.

Justice Report launched in Bosnia

BIRN BiH on March 6 launched a specialised news agency, designed to cover war crimes trials before Bosnia and Herzegovina’s State Court.

The new service, Justice Report, is dedicated to bringing local war crimes trials closer to the citizens of BiH and the wider region through accurate, objective and prompt reporting.

Besides covering the trials and their impact on society, the agency will also concentrate on developments within the Bosnian judiciary, and the impact of the country’s transitional justice model on other states facing similar daunting tasks.

Produced in the Bosnian and English languages, Justice Report will be available free of charge to local and regional media and interested individuals.

Justice Report is an integral part of BIRN BiH’s activities in 2006 aimed at promoting truth, justice and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If you are interested in receiving Justice Report by email, or for more information, please contact BIRN BiH country director Nerma Jelacic.

This project is currently funded by the Norwegian foreign ministry.

MDLF Assistance at BIRN Board Meeting Takes Network Forward

The Media Development Loan Fund generously granted assistance to BIRN at its February 19-22 board meeting, with legal expert Milan Lukic advising on corporate structuring to respond to BIRN’s strategic plans.

Board members who gathered in Sarajevo, BIRN’s regional headquarters, successfully put in motion a process which will refine Network relations and establish a commercial subsidiary.

BIRN, a close group of six territorially-based non-governmental organisations, plus a regional coordinating ‘hub’, plans to part-finance its projects by generating income through its expanding editorial output.

For more information on BIRN’s sustainability plans, contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.