BIRN BiH Moderates War Crimes Debate for Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

BIRN BiH director, Nerma Jelacic, moderated a two-day conference on journalists’
coverage of war crimes issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2005.

"Dealing
with the past and the media’s role" organised by the Konrad Adenauer
Stiftung took place on 5-7 December in Sarajevo. Journalists from print
and radio media from all over BiH, as well as representatives of the State
Court and Prosecution and media experts, took part in the event.

The Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and BIRN BiH will present the conclusions
of the conference jointly in an upcoming meeting with representatives of
the State Court and Prosecution.

For more information, contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN Seeks Freelance Editors

BIRN seeks applications from English-language editors with expertise in
the Balkan region and investigative and economic reporting to form part
of its growing pool of freelancers working on Balkan Insight.

Applications are particularly encouraged from editors based in the
region, and should be sent to BIRN Editorial and Development Director
Gordana Igric.

BIRN Sustainability Plans Progress

As part of BIRN’s development strategy to achieve sustainability by generating income from some elements of its editorial output, Development and Editorial Director Gordana Igric was invited to attend a one-week business plan course organised by the Media Development Loan Fund, MDLF, from 21-26 November.

The purpose of the training was to assist Balkan-based media organisations and outlets in establishing themselves on the region’s still volatile media market.

For more information on BIRN’s editorial and sustainability strategy, contact BIRN Editorial and Development Director Gordana Igric.

BIRN Kosovo Documentary Completed

The final edit of BIRN’s documentary film on the regional context for Kosovo status negotiations is now complete.

Post-production, narration and sub-titling will be finished by the end of the month, with premier screenings scheduled for January 2006.

More information will be forthcoming on these screenings, due to take place in the countries/territories covered by the film – Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Screenings are also being organised in Brussels, London and Sofia.

The film will be broadcast by TV stations throughout the Balkans, while distribution further afield is also being arranged.

This project is supported by the Swiss Foreign Ministry. For more information, contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

Balkan Voices: What next for Kosovo?

A documentary reflecting the concerns and hopes of Balkan citizens on the eve of crucial talks over the final status of Kosovo is to be screened at the Front Line Club in London on January 9.

Produced by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, and directed by the award-winning film-maker Lode Desmet, the 85-minute documentary – entitled Does Anyone Have A Plan? – focuses on seventeen ordinary people from Kosovo, Serbia and neighbouring countries in the run-up to the negotiations.

In the film, the subjects’ questions about the implications of the talks – which, it is hoped, will go a long way to finding a solution to the conflict between Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians, and stabilising the region as a whole – are put to important local and international political figures.

The latter include EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, senior US state department official Nicholas Burns, Serbian president Boris Tadic and Kosovo premier Bajram Kosumi.

Kosovo is the last unresolved dispute in the Balkans. In the summer of 1999, Serbian troops left the entity and NATO forces moved in. Since then, it has been largely administered by the UN, although still formally part of Serbia and Montenegro.

Serbian, Kosovo Albanian and international officials are to start negotiations on the future of the region in early 2006, with the Albanians wanting independence and the Serbs prepared to concede no more than a high degree of autonomy.

The film is subtitled in English and all local languages. It will be broadcast throughout the region by leading TV stations in January and February. International distribution is also being planned.

This project was supported by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Political Affairs Division for Human Security.

BIRN SaM receives Freedom House grant

BIRN SaM has received a grant from Freedom House’s Democratic Transition
and Reintegration in Serbia (DTRS) programme to give a public platform to
existing NGO inititiatives in Serbia.

Running from January to April 2006, the project will see BIRN SaM commission
articles from journalists in training to become part of the BIRN network
on topics like civil control of the armed forces, domestic violence, trade
between Kosovo and Serbia, religious freedom, youth employment, gender equality,
minority rights and Roma rights.

For more details on this project contact BIRN Serbia and Montenegro director
Dragana Nikolic Solomon.

BIRN Kosovo hosts hot debate on violence against journalists

A BIRN Kosovo TV debate aired on January 18 saw police and other public officials argue vigorously with local journalists on the issue of recently increased violence against the latter.

For the first time in BIRN’s Life in Kosovo series, aired on RTK, a live audience of 40 people participated in the debate, challenging guests with questions raised by concrete cases of violence against journalists.

Panellists included Fatos Bytyci, President of the Association of Professional Journalists of Kosova, AGPK, Rekfi Morina, spokesperson for the Kosovo Police Service, KPS, Fatmire Terdevci, an investigative journalist from daily Koha Ditore, Afrim Ahmeti, head of command for the central Pristina police station, Petrit Selimi, Director of MediaWorks, and Sabit Rrustemi, spokesperson for the Gjilan municipal authorities.

For a full report on the debate, click here.

This project is supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy. For more information, contact BIRN Kosovo Director Jeta Xharra.

BIRN BiH Launches War Crimes Guide and Court Reporters’ Association

BIRN BiH and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung are to bring together media representatives
and judicial officials for a presentation and discussion on media and war
crimes trials at a special event on January 30.

The Sarajevo meeting will launch the projects planned by BIRN BiH and KAS
for 2006 in the field of reporting war crimes proceedings at the Court of
BiH; promote the publications ‘BIRN’s Guide to the War Crimes Chamber’
and ‘KAS’s Role of the media in dealing with the past’; and
announce the formation of a new Court Reporters’ Association, relating specifically
to the Court of BiH.

"The aim of this body will be to secure better working conditions for
journalists covering the young court, but also to act as a filter through
which the court can communicate its concerns with a large number of media
in Bosnia," Nerma Jelacic, BIRN BiH director said.

Additionally, BIRN will present its Justice in BiH project for 2006, which
includes the creation of a specialised information service on the Court
of BiH, as well as activities with the civil society sector throughout BiH
and the diaspora.

For more information, contact BIRN BiH country director Nerma Jelacic.

Norway to Fund BIRN Regional Project in 2006

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has generously provided BIRN with funding to support its regional training, reporting and debate activities in 2006.

The significant grant will also help BIRN to implement its sustainability strategies, thus providing welcome support for the BIRN Network’s activities beyond the end of this year.

The support of the Norwegian Foreign Ministry to the Balkan Programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting during 2004 and 2005 was central in the evolution and launch of BIRN as an independent local civil society initiative.

For more information on how to get involved in supporting or participating in BIRN’s projects, contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

Balkan premiere of BIRN documentary film in Belgrade

The documentary “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” premiered in the Balkans on Wednesday, January 25 in Dvorana Kulturnog Centra Cinema in Belgrade.

Serbian journalists, civil society representatives and foreign diplomats attended the screening.

The film received significant media coverage. Serbia’s national television station, RTS TV, B92, Pink TV, Deutsche Welle and Serbia’s leading independent TV studios, VIN and Mreza covered the event.

Newspapers including Evropa, Danas, Reporter and Nedeljni Telegraf also wrote pieces on the film.

Following the premiere, BIRN Serbia and Montenegro received many requests for further screenings of the documentary at other conferences and events.

VIN journalist Olivera Stojanovic said “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” gave a new perspective to an issue that has become too familiar. “Although Kosovo is daily topic, this film gives a totally new approach to it and makes you think, above all, how much we really know about us and our neighbours, about tolerance and nationalism,” she said.

After screenings in Sofia, Skopje, Pristina and Sarajevo, the documentary film will be made available for public broadcast on all major TV stations in the region.

Public broadcast of the documentary in Serbia can be expected in the second part of February.