BIRN Debates Big Hit with Viewers

In its special New Year’s edition, Koha Ditore, Kosovo’s daily newspaper, ran a short review of the Life in Kosovo debates, saying the show is the “most watched TV programme in Kosovo after the Latin-American soap-operas”.

“Life in Kosovo” is a weekly TV debate show that is organised by BIRN Kosovo and broadcast on RTK, Kosovo’s public TV station.

The programme deals with current political and social affairs and was launched in October 2005 as a bi-weekly show. Since September 2006, it’s gone weekly and is broadcast on prime time, every Friday evening from 20:30 hours.

Reactions to BIRN Debate on Religion

A storm of comment was provoked by the BIRN-organised “Life in Kosovo” debate on Islam. Over 70 emails were sent to BIRN after the television show was aired on December 8.

“I was waiting for your show to be transmitted as I was told it tackles a very taboo topic of our Islamophobic society. I encourage you to go on, as other media are avoiding such topics, especially those about gender discrimination within religion”
Sadat, Pristina

“I feel sorry for those who support fundamentalist Islam. We inherited this religion from our conqueror, the Ottoman Empire and we still suffer from the consequences. For example, my mother is illiterate because at that time it was said that Muslim girls should not go to school.”
Ramush, Pristina

“How can somebody say that it is forbidden for a woman to shake hands with man? If this is correct than I don’t want to be a part of it. This is in direct conflict with our traditions as Albanians. We don’t need Saudi traditions as we have our own.”
Adelina, Sweden

The full report on the debate can be found at:

BIRN Contributor Commended for Reporting on Corruption

Arbana Xharra, a BIRN contributor, won first prize in a journalism competition organised by Kosovo’s Anti-Corruption Agency, AKA, the UN Development Programme, UNDP, and the OSCE mission in Kosovo, on December 11.

The jury, which consisted of seven members, selected Xharra for her numerous articles on corruption published in the daily Koha Ditore and BIRN’s online publication Balkan Insight.

Xharra, a senior journalist with Koha Ditore, has been a regular BIRN contributor since January 2006. She has published a number of investigative and analytical articles for BIRN, mostly regarding mismanagement of public funds in Kosovo’s institutions.

Justice Report Editor Receives Recognition

BIRN Justice Report editor Nidzara Ahmetasevic was honoured at an Italian journalism award ceremony in Rome on December 12.

The Italian association Claudio Accardi awarded her story “Crime Not Spoken About”, which deals with rape and sexual abuse of men in detention camps during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the special recognition prize.

The five-member jury, consisting of eminent Italian journalists and publicists, said she deserved the award for writing about an almost unknown subject.

They also said that the story stood out from many of the 79 entries from around the world for the category because of its approach to such “a difficult topic”.

Nidzara Ahmetasevic is the first non-Italian recipient of Claudio Accardi special recognition award. It’s the third year in a row that it has been handed to journalists who write about wars and consequences of wars on societies.

The association was founded in 2003 in memory of the famous RAI correspondent from war-torn parts of the world, Claudio Accardia.

“Crime Not Spoken About” was published in the 8th edition of Justice Report. You can read it in Bosnian here.

Nis Workshop for Albanian and Serbian Journalists

An editorial workshop for six journalists from South Serbia was held from December 8 to 10 at the Nis Media Centre, as part of BIRN’s ongoing Minority Training and Reporting project.

Nis Training

The group comprised four Albanian and two Serbian journalists who work for local electronic and print media outlets in Bujanovac, Presevo and Vranje.

The journalists were: Rijad Destani of Albanian TV Spektri; Faruk Daliu of RTV Bujanovac; Skender Saqipi and Fesnike Rexhepi from the Albanian weekly Perspektiva; Nikola Lazic from the weekly Novine Vranjske; and Ardita Behluli and Ivica Stepanovic from RTV Presevo.

Over the course of the three-day training session, BIRN editor-in-chief, Gordan Igric, and the director of BIRN Serbia, Dragana Nikolic Solomon, discussed how to write features and news analysis and pointed out common mistakes.

Jeta Xhara, BIRN Kosovo director, gave the participants tips on interviewing techniques based on her experience of hosting a highly successful TV debate show in Kosovo.

Miroslav Jankovic from Youth Initiative for Human Rights, YIHR, talked to the group about access to information legislation and journalists’ rights.

Igric held a session on libel law and why it’s important to understand it in advance of Serbia’s integration into Europe.

Nikolic Solomon spoke about the importance of steering away from hate speech and stereotypes when writing articles, especially in post-conflict societies such as Presevo.

Vukasin Obradovic, editor-in-chief of Novine Vranjske, discussed his own experience of editing the multi-ethnic monthly Korak – Hapi, urging the group to write as professionals, not as Albanians or Serbs.

Suzana Trninic, a B92 radio editor, held a session on election coverage and provided tips on how the journalists could improve their contacts with mainstream parties in Belgrade.

During the last day of training, Igric and Nikolic Solomon worked with journalists on the preparation of articles on South Serbia, due to be published beginning of January.

Those who attended the workshop thought it very useful.

“I think we learned a lot from the experienced journalists who trained us in Nis. The knowledge we gained in the last few days will be very useful for our day-to-day work,” said Saqipi.

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

BIRN BiH to run media and war crimes training in Uganda

BIRN BiH is to extend its successful training model to journalists reporting war crimes issues to Uganda.

BIRN BiH is to extend its successful training model to journalists reporting war crimes issues to Uganda.
BIRN Justice Africa project will mentor Ugandan journalists reporting the International Criminal Court, ICC. The one-week intensive course will see BIRN’s unique approach to training court reporters in the
Balkans adapted to Ugandan media’s and ICC’s needs.
The training in Uganda is the first time BIRN has transferred the experiences of Balkan journalists reporting on war crimes issues to colleagues dealing with similar issues in other post-conflict countries.

The first stage of BIRN Justice Africa is being supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, War Crimes Office in London and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
To find out more about BIRN’s activities in the transitional justice sector please contact Nerma Jelacic, BIRN BiH director at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

BIRN BiH director at war crimes conference in Banja Luka

Nerma Jelačić, direktorica BIRN
BiH, učestvovala je na konferenciji o ratnim zločinima, održanoj 9. decembra
ove godine u Banja Luci.

Nerma Jelačić,
direktorica BIRN BiH, učestvovala je na konferenciji o ratnim zločinima,
održanoj 9. decembra ove godine u Banja Luci.

naslovljena «Preduslovi za izgradnju mira u Bosni i Hercegovini», okupila je
predstvanike nevladinih organizacija, udruženja žrtava i mlade aktiviste iz
sjeverozapadnih dijelova Republike Srpske.


Jelačić je
govorila o vladavini prava i suđenjima za ratne zločine u Bosni i Hercegovini.
Drugi panelista, Srđan Puhalo, psiholog iz Banja Luke, govorio je o
percepcijama prošlosti u različitim lokalnim zajednicama u zemlji.


Konferencija je
održana u organizaciji Helsinškog komiteta za ljudska prava Republike Srpske.

BIRN Rapporteur at International Conference

BIRN was commissioned by the Grantmakers East Group, GEG, to monitor and report on its 11th annual meeting, held October 18-20 in Belgrade.

Image 359

The conference, entitled “Philanthropy and Participation – From Expectations to Practice”, addressed the challenges facing donors in promoting the development of civil society in South, Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

The GEG annual meeting provides a forum for its members to increase the effectiveness of their grantmaking efforts and to encourage new donor activity in the region.

For more information about GEG, and to read the BIRN conference report published last week, click here:

Enquiries about BIRN’s consultancy services should be directed to Gordana Igric, BIRN Regional Network Director, [email protected].

Carla’s List Premieres in Sarajevo

On November 30, BIRN BiH director Nerma Jelacic moderated a panel discussion following the premiere of Carla’s List, a documentary about the work of Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Panelists included Del Ponte, Bosnian court president Meddzida Kreso and chief prosecutor Marinko Jurcevic.

The hundred-strong audience included representatives of victims’ groups from across Bosnia and Herzegovina, non-governmental
organisations, media and the diplomatic community.

Organised by the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo, the screening marked the regional premiere of Carla’s List, which will also be shown in Croatia and Serbia.

BIRN BiH Director in Bijeljina

Nerma Jelacic, director of BIRN BiH, was a panelist on a live
television debate about dealing with the past in Bijeljina.

Organised by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Republika
Srpska, the series of debates screened on BNTV gather experts in the
field of transitional justice to discuss Bosnia’s struggle to deal
with the legacy of war.

Other panelists at the debate aired on November 25 included Mirsad
Tokaca of the Research and Documentation Centre; Dragan Banjac, a
freelance journalist from Serbia; Tamira Kaliterna, an activist with
Women in Back in Belgrade, and Zoran Pusic from Zagreb.