The BIRN team was featured in the June issue of the women’s magazine Gracija. Entitled “Women lead in Balkan Investigative Reporting Network”, the picture story presented the BIRN BiH team and its Justice Report service which is produced in Sarajevo.

For more about Justice Report or other BIRN BiH activities please contact its director, Nerma Jelacic, at [email protected]


A leading Bulgarian court reporter has praised BIRN Bulgaria’s
Reporting from the Courts project which ended last month.

BIRN Bulgaria director Albena Shkodrova announced the successful
completion of the project in an interview on June 29 with the Studio
Bulgaria programme of Radio New Europe.
host of the programme Vasil Chobanov, himself a prominent legal
journalist, praised the project as one of "great importance to the
Bulgarian media world".

Krassen Nikolov of, who participated in the project, told the radio programme
that he got a lot out of the training programme. "It was a remarkable
experience," he said.
The three-month project, supported by US State Department, trained 6
reporters from Bulgarian print media to analyse the work of the
Bulgarian judiciary.
participants produced nine stories, covering topics such as the
probation service, the performance of the ombudsman and punishment of
petty crime.

The stories can be found in Bulgarian, English versions of some of them are available on the same site.

Birn hosts third meeting of court reporters association

Members of the Association of Court Reporters who cover the Court of BiH held their third meeting on June 27. A list of proposals and suggestions aimed at improving the outflow of public information from the state judiciary was agreed and will be presented to the Court of BiH.

Members of the association, which is chaired by BIRN BiH, agreed on the following proposals:

* The possibility of introducing a live internet feed from
the courtrooms of the War Crimes Chamber should be explored. The system could follow the example set by the Hague tribunal. Such a service would not only help the electronic and non-Sarajevo based media to better cover the trials but would also make the justice process more open for the general public in BiH, the region and internationally.
* A rule book for journalists covering war crimes trials
should be produced in order to prevent misunderstandings and mistakes that jeopardise trials. It should be put together in cooperation with the Press Council and the Regulatory Communications Agency, as well as the Court of BiH.
* The importance of timely statements from court and
prosecution officials or their public information departments is once again reiterated. One of the reporters’ objections during the association meeting was that they do not receive the statements they request of the court officials on time, which diminishes the value of their report or results in stories being spiked.
Association members also repeated some of the previous suggestions to which they have not yet received a response from the Court of BiH.
* It is once again suggested that photographs from each
hearing are put on the appropriate section of the website which would contribute to the dynamics of reporting and increase the effectiveness of information coming out of the court.
* The association urges the court to adopt the practice of
publishing a weekly index/listing of motions and records filed in each case. While it is acknowledged that all public documents are available on request, it is clear that reporters and members of the public cannot make an informed decision on what motions are available to them without a listing. A similar procedure is already in practice at the Hague Tribunal.
* The association once again reiterates the need for the
introduction of weekly press briefings for the media where an update on events at the court is given to the public. This would improve the efficiency of communication between the media and the court as well as the quality of reporting. This proposal is also based on experiences of the Hague tribunal.

About the association:
The Association of Court Reporters was founded in 2005 in order to improve communication between the media and Court of BiH.

The work of the association is supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If you have proposals for the association’s further work, please write to [email protected] or [email protected] . Find out more about the association on

Media training for Kosovo human rights workers

Jeta Xharra, Kosovo BIRN Director, held a training session for 17 young human rights activists in Vucitern/Vushtrri on July 15, focusing on how to communicate with the media and pitch stories of human rights interest.

Labinot Berisha, coordinator of anti-trafficking projects within the youth department of the ministry of culture, said the session would help contribute to more sensitive coverage of issues such as child labor, and victims of trafficking and abuse”.
The event was organised in partnership with Management & Development Associates and was held in the Kosovo Police Service school. The activists who took part in the session were:
– Bujar Thaci, Institute of Social Policy
– Linda Loshi, Handicap Kosova
– Majlinda Pirkuqi, human rights volunteer
– Rrezarta Dreshaj, human rights volunteer
– Nerxhivane Haziri, human rights volunteer
– Albana Bytyci, human rights volunteer
– Sylejman Maloku, human rights volunteer
– Bashkim Pacarizi, Kosovo Youth Network
– Labinot Berisha, coordinator for anti-traficking projects, Department ofYouth, Ministry of Culture
– Bekrije Maxhuni, human rights ambassador
– Yllza Jusufi, human rights volunteer
– Besa Shala, human rights volunteer
– Gyltene Retkoceri, human rights volunteer
– Violeta Zefi, human rights volunteer
– Kaltrina Osmani, human rights volunteer
– Arta Buzhala, human rights volunteer
– Manushaqe Vila, human rights volunteer

“JR” editor at media seminar in Sarajevo

An editor with BIRN’s Justice Report, Nidzara Ahmetasevic, spoke at the conference “War crimes and media:
possibilities of establishing trust” held on May 18 and 19 in the Mediacentre Sarajevo.

The media representatives from the region who gathered at this two-day round table organised by Transitions Online talked about war crimes reporting, the challenges in war crimes processes and violation of human rights.

In her speech, Ahmetasevic stressed the importance of regular and detailed reporting on war crimes trials before local and international courts, which can be helpful in the process of establishing trust and facing the past.

Other speakers were Dejan Anastasijevic, reporter from Vreme magazine, Belgrade; Boris Vlasic, reporter form daily paper Jutarnji list – Zagreb; Drago Pilsel, columnist and reporter of the daily paper Novi list – Rijeka; Sabina Cehajic, University of Sussex, Brighton; Zoran Pajic, Kings College London; Nevena Rsumovic, editor of web publication NetNovinar, Mediacenter Sarajevo.

BIRN BiH Guest on “Arena” Talk Show

An editor of BIRN’s Justice Report magazine, Nidzara Ahmetasevic, made a guest appearance on the political talk show ARENA, in Belgrade on June 29.

The topic of the show was the Hague fugitive Radovan Karadzic. There was discussion of a number of issues, including the local consequences if he remains on the run and, more generally, the influence of the Hague tribunal on the region.

The show was hosted by the Forum for South-eastern Europe, a non-governmental organisation with headquarters in Zurich.

Other guests on the show were Biljana Kovacevic – Vuco, president of the Committee of Attorneys for Human Rights, Serbia; Djordje Mamula, senior official in the Democratic Party of Serbia; and Jelena Markovic, spokesperson of the Democratic Party.

BIRN Macedonia selects first trainees

BIRN Macedonia has started the first part of its primary level journalism training course with an open invitation to young Macedonian journalists to develop their talents.

Applicants will be tested on October 17 at BIRN Macedonia’s Skopje office.

The project seeks to develop and improve the quality of journalism in different regions of Macedonia and to build a wider network of young journalists working in line with BIRN’s internationally recognised reporting standards.

The on-the-job training project will result in six special report packages on critical issues affecting Macedonia’s transition process, such as decentralization, corruption, minorities, and the EU accession process. They will be published monthly in Macedonian and Albanian, and a selection of articles will be reprinted in English.

For more information on how to get involved, please contact Ana Petruseva

BIRN BiH holds round table on War Crimes Chamber in Bihac

BIRN BiH organised a round table in Bihac, north-west BiH, on October 13 as part of its Transitional Justice project to stimulate dialogue between the new War Crimes Chamber and the Bosnian public.

More than 40 representatives from non-governmental organisations, local government, victims associations and lawyers from BiH’s two entities attended the event for a day-long discussion on the role of the WCC in dealing with Bosnia’s past.

Speakers included representatives of the state court’s registry, prosecution, defence and Ootreach sections, as well as Hague tribunal officials, cantonal judges and prosecutors from the Bihac region.

They addressed an audience from Bihac, Cazin, Prijedor, Banja Luka, Drvar, Jajce and Sanski Most. Other events within this phase of BIRN’s Transitional Justice project are scheduled to take place in Brcko on October 27 and Sarajevo on November 10.

The Transitional Justice project is supported by the Swiss embassy in Sarajevo with the assistance of the Office of the Registrar and Prosecution within the State Court of BiH.

For more information, please contact Nerma Jelacic

BIRN Serbia to run investigative journalism workshop in Nis

BIRN Serbia is organising this October 29-30 training in investigative journalism for reporters from the southern part of the country.

The six participants are a mixed group of young Albanian and Serbian journalists who have completed BIRN’s primary journalism training course.

The training will be led by BIRN’s development and editorial director Gordana Igric and investigations coordinator Hugh Griffiths, together with BIRN Serbia director Dragana Nikolic-Solomon.

The workshop comprises theoretical and practical training modules that equip trainees with the tools they need to initiate investigations. A number of real reporting projects will subsequently be carried out under the close supervision and mentoring of BIRN staff.

Training will be based on the first seven modules of BIRN’s investigative training programme, including the investigative team concept, the insight method, sourcing, libel issues, sensitive information management, contacts and tip-offs, pursuing inquiries and investigative interview techniques.

This Nis workshop forms part of BIRN’s Serbia & Montenegro Minority and Training project, funded by the British embassy in Belgrade through the UK government’s Global Opportunities Fund (GOF).

For more information on how to get involved, please contact Dragana Nikolic-Solomon

BIRN Kosovo television debates go on air

BIRN this week launches ‘Life in Kosovo,’ a new series of current affairs television programmes for broadcast on RTK.

The first debate, going out on Wednesday October 19 at 22.45, deals with the mood in Kosovo following publication of UN Special Representative Kai Eide’s report on future status talks for the territory.

Emphasis is on prospects for compromise between Albanian and Serb positions, with Kosovar politicians posed tough questions on the upcoming negotiations by members of the public.

Participants include Lufti Haziri, minister for local government, Teuta Sahatqija, a deputy from the ORA party, Professor Enver Hoxhaj, a PDK party deputy and Oliver Ivanovic, head of the Serbian List for Kosovo and Metohija.

BIRN Kosovo director Jeta Xharra will chair the debate.