Belgrade Journalist Survives Hand Grenade Attack

A hand grenade exploded early on Saturday 14 April, outside the home of Dejan Anastasijevic, a prominent journalist with the Belgrade-based Vreme weekly, causing damage but no injuries, according to a police statement.

Anastasijevic is an outspoken critic of the regime of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, testifying against him in 2002 at his trial before the Netherlands-based UN war crimes tribunal. He also reported extensively about war crimes committed by Serb troops in the 1990’s, during the bloody breakup of former Yugoslavia.

Police said they were looking for suspects in the attack that destroyed the window of Anastasijevic’s apartment in downtown Belgrade, and damaged several cars parked outside. No arrests have so far been reported. Anastasijevic was not immediately available for comment.

In 2002, Anastasijevic and his colleague, Jovan Dulovic, also with the Vreme weekly, received death threats after appearing as prosecution witnesses in the Milosevic trial. In a controversial move, both revealed the sources for some of their articles in order to establish that Milosevic had exercised command responsibility during the 1991 siege of the Croatian city of Vukovar. More than 200 people were killed after Vukovar fell to the Yugoslav People‘s Army, with three of its former officers currently standing trial for related war crimes.

BIRN trains journalists in Uganda

Over 30 Ugandan journalists have been trained by
the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network between March 12 and 16.

The participants were senior reporters and editors from
Uganda’s major electronic and print media. BIRN’s seminar was the first time
that Uganda’s media was offered an opportunity to learn about the work of the
International Criminal Court and war crimes trials coverage.

Trainers and speakers included Stacy Sullivan of the Institute for War and
Peace Reporting, Matthew Brubacher of the ICC office of the Prosecutor, Claudia
Perdomo of the ICC’s registry, Richard Dicker of the Human Rights Watch and
Nerma Jelacic, BIRN BiH director.

Journalists had an opportunity to get to know the set up and the rules
governing the work of the ICC as well as the court’s work in Uganda which has
been hampered by a 20-year conflict.

BIRN also used the training to transfer their experience and expertise in
covering war crimes trials in the Hague and the Balkans.

Journalists also learnt about the importance of local judiciary and
alternative justice mechanisms and the limitations of ICC cases in terms of
bringing justice to the victims of conflict.

Both the ICC officials and the journalists evaluated the training as
successful.

“The training was very useful and timely. It has set my career at another
level. You guys were a great help to me and I just can’t find words to
thank you for your efforts,” said Kenneth Lukwago of Radio One.

Lydia Mukisa, a court reporter with the Daily Monitor newspaper, said she found
the training extremely useful. “I considrer myself blessed because now I have
an idea on how ICC the operates. Being a court reporter, I was eager to
establish what the ICC was all about. Following the information given to me in
the training, I can now tell the public what ICC is all about and I can cover
cases/situations before the ICC including that of Uganda.”

Justin Oryema, programme manager of Gulu-based Mega FM, said the training has
given him “an in-depth insight into what the ICC is; what it stands for; and
how best we can make our audience know all about it”.

“Life in Kosovo” Debates the Economy

BIRN’s televised show Life in Kosovo, in its upcoming edition on April 6, will discuss economic issues and the problems Kosovo will face once its political status is determined.

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What will the state of Kosovo’s economy be after independence? How will Kosovo become economically independent once final status is settled? What strategies are there for employing people? Will an independent Kosovo attract foreign investors? And to what extent will social welfare increase? These are among some of the issues to be discussed.

Panelist in the studio will be:

Dardan Stublla, advisor to the Ministry of Economy and Finances
Shpend Ahmeti, economist and professor at the American University in Kosovo
Arianit Blakaj, economist
Driton Tali, economist
Ejup Fejza, official at the Trade and Industry Ministry
Gani Musliaj, Mediator ( negotiator) in the foreign investment process

The Life in Kosovo show will be broadcast on Friday at 20:30.

Investigative Journalism Training in Montenegro

An investigative journalism training workshop for seven journalists was held in Montenegro from March 30 – April 1 in Podgorica, as part of BIRN’s ongoing Minority Training and Reporting project.

The group comprised journalists who after primary level training have become regular BIRN contributors from different parts of Montenegro. Also, one journalist from Kosovo attended the workshop in order to participate in planning and commissioning cross- border investigative articles.

The journalists were: Bojana Stanisic, a freelance journalist; Nedjeljko Rudovic from Vijesti; Petar Komnenic from Monitor and RFE; Nikola Donscic, freelance journalist; Tufik Softic from Radio Berane; Sead Sadikovic, freelance journalist; Samir Adrovic from Vijesti and Krenar Gashi from BIRN Kosovo.

Over the course of the three-day training session, BIRN editor-in-chief, Gordan Igric, and the editor of BIRN Serbia, Aleksandar Vasovic, discussed how to shape an investigative project from beginning to end – from finding the right topic, forming a hypothesis for the story, through choosing the angle, initial probing, careful planning to actual writing.

Special attention was devoted to the issue of sources and interviews – finding sources, checking their reliability, building the network of sources, protection of sources, use of anonymous sources, dealing with sources in positions of power, confrontation interviews, etc.

One session dealt with aspects of Montenegrin law that journalists must be aware of when producing their investigations.

Dusko Vukovic, from the Media Institute, presented legal do’s and don’ts, relating to libel, censorship, access to information and source protection.

Seki Radoncic, investigative journalist from Montenegro, currently living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, talked about his work and risks of the profession. He presented the case study of his investigation about Bosnian Muslims that were arrested and deported from Montenegro to Republika Srpska in summer 1992, after which most of them were murdered.

The internationally-acclaimed documentary “Carnival”, based on Radoncic investigation, was organised for the journalists, followed by lively debate.

During the training, Igric and Vasovic worked with journalists on the preparation of articles for a special package dealing with the issue of the new constitution and the way in which it will resolve some of the most disputed topics in Montenegrin society, such as official language, religion, minority rights, etc.

Also, several investigative articles were commissioned and outlined.

A special package on Montenegro is due to be published towards the end of April.

The workshop was organised with the help of British Embassy in Belgrade as well as the National Endowment for Democracy, NED in Washington.

BIRN to Hold Investigative Reporting Workshop

BIRN’s investigative teams from around the region will
meet in Belgrade on April 13-14 to undergo training, review ongoing projects and
make further editorial plans.

The 15 journalists and editors from the regional network
who will gather for the annual training session will thus share ideas and new
approaches to investigative reports for Balkan
Insight, BIRN’s online publication.

Investigations already underway will be reviewed,
tackling issues of methodology, obstacles, dilemmas and article structure.
Milorad Ivanovic, a journalist from Serbia’s Blic newspaper and the country’s
SCOOP coordinator, will give participants practical tips on how to obtain
classified documents from American agency archives.

Gordana Igric, BIRN’s director and editor-in-chief,
believes the event is a great opportunity to brainstorm on network development
and ways of producing more lively and diverse coverage of Balkan events and
issues.

“I expect the meeting will improve the skills of the
journalists attending, but also that BIRN will benefit as an organisation from
their input.”

Seminars on ICTY reporting in Skopje and Pristina

BIRN and the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, are organising two seminars on reporting about the work of the ICTY for journalists from Kosovo and Macedonia next week in Pristina and Skopje.

The seminars, scheduled for April 10 in Pristina and April 11 in Skopje, will offer an opportunity for media professionals from Kosovo and Macedonia to discuss various issues related to the ICTY and the coverage of war crimes with tribunal officials and experts on war crimes reporting. The seminars will be divided into six sessions and are envisaged as a forum for an open exchange of opinions and experiences, to facilitate better access to ICTY-related information. The events are organised by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, in cooperation with ICTY Outreach and with financial support from the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

BIRN BiH Promotes New Press Code

BIRN BiH will in March together with the Press Council visit four cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to promote the new press code on journalistic ethics.

BIRN BiH will in March together with the Press Council visit four cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to promote the new press code on journalistic ethics.

BIRN’s Association of Court Reporters and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in 2006 approached the Press Council with a view to improving the rules and recommendations to journalists reporting from war crimes trials.

The code has consequently been changed in two areas – covering protected witnesses – and a set of recommendations has been adopted by editors of Bosnia’s major print media.

The changes have been promoted so far in Mostar and Sarajevo on March 15 and 22 respectively with two more events due in Banja Luka and Bijeljina on March 28 and 29.

The Association of Court Reporters will continue with its work in 2007 with the aim of improving communication between the media and local judiciary and ensuring transparent and widely accessible justice for all.

To find out more about the work of the Association or BIRN BiH please write to director Nerma Jelacic at [email protected]

BIRN to Hold Regional Event in Belgrade

Staff and contributors from throughout the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network will meet from April 12 –15 in Belgrade.

They will take part in a panel discussion on April 12, tackling the issue of how countries of the Balkan region are managing to develop, set and promote their own foreign policy. This public event, which will include additional guest speakers, is to follow publication of a special edition of Balkan Insight addressing this topic.

Investigative journalism training for BIRN members will follow on April 13, continuing on April 14 with editorial planning and a review of ongoing projects initiated at the last meeting of the network in August 2006.

The board of the regional network will convene on April 15 to review institutional development issues and other outstanding business.

Life in Kosovo Discusses Refugee Returns

The upcoming edition of BIRN’s Life in Kosovo TV show on March 23 will look at the return of refugees and displaced persons to the territory.

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Large amounts of money have been spent on the returns process, which has engaged not only Kosovo’s government, but other local and international organisations as well.

Are people really returning in Kosovo? What are their expectations and what do they indeed find when theycome home? And who should be held responsible for securing the conditions for returns?

These are some of the points to be discussed during the debate between:

Nazmi Fejza, deputy minister for returns; Valdete Idrizi from the “Development of Communities” organisation in Mitrovica;
Hasim Uka, a returnee from the village Kashtanjeva, Shterpce municipality;
Dragana Gërciq, a returnee from Kosh village, Peja municipality; and
Nazmi Mikullovci, a Mitrovica local unable to access his property in the north part of the city.

Following the debate, BIRN will show a short documentary by Birol Urcan, which features the return of the Uka and Gercic families to their homes.

Life in Kosovo will be broadcast at its regular prime time of 20:30.

New BIRN Coordinator Appointed in Croatia

Goran Jungvirth has joined BIRN as coordinator for its editorial
activities in Croatia. He is currently editor of
the business programme Novac on Croatia’s Nova TV, and
has previously covered war crimes trials in The Hague as well as domestic
politics for various Croatian and international media.

He will
assist BIRN Croatia editor Anna McTaggart in building
an investigative team in Croatia, as she takes over management
of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic
Excellence.

For more
information on BIRN’s activities in
Croatia, email [email protected] or [email protected].