This is an overview of the BIRN Network activities and achievements in 2017-2018, the social and political context in which it operates, the prizes its journalists won and the impact of its reporting.
Analysis on the System of Assets Declarations of Prosecutors in Albania, a study published by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania, evaluates that structure of the wealth of the members of the prosecutor’s office in Albania as well as the integrity of the asset declaration system.
This latest report comes on the heels of four studies published by BIRN Albania on the integrity of the assets declarations of judges from first-instance courts, appeals courts, the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.
The study sheds light not only on how prosecutors in Albania have accumulated wealth but also on key practices, recognised as “red flags”, which obscure the origin of this wealth, such as gifts or loans from relatives, inherited assets, large bank loans, real estate transactions and cash kept outside the banking system.
This report aims to analyse the structure and source of assets, expenditures, liabilities and income declared by all prosecutors, as well as provide detailed information on changes to the overall wealth of these officials. The authors of this report hope these data will help journalists, experts and civil society actors to independently monitor the performance of the vetting institutions that are expected now to sift through the judicial cohort and investigative cases of illegal assets of judges and prosecutors.
To download a copy of the report in English, click here.
To download a copy of the report in Albanian, click here.
BIRN’s journalistic work produced in 2017 some very tangible social and political changes, both within the region and internationally, showing that non-profit media can influence the work of public institutions and authorities when applying high professional standard to their work.
Please click on the pinned locations on the map to read about the impact of BIRN’s reporting.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania has published two new manuals, which aim to give civil society and activists the necessary knowledge to advocate their causes in the media.
The first guide focuses on advocacy through the traditional and social media, while the second guide deals specifically with the various uses of photography as a medium for advocacy.
The drafting and publication of the two manuals was supported by the Balkan Trust for Democracy, BTD and the Swedish International Development Agency, SIDA.
Both manuals are part of BIRN Albania’s efforts to bridge the gap between civil society and the media in order to strengthen the fight against corruption and impunity, reinforce the rule of law and promote the respect of human rights and minorities.
They come on the heels of dozens of workshop between journalists and civil society organized over the last four years by BIRN Albania, which have guided the focus themes for investigative stories in its award winning publication Reporter.al.
The manuals cover an array of topics crucial to media advocacy, which range from making the difference from advocacy to propaganda, to tips and tools to produce a viral photo and how to distribute it.
These publications not only aim to strengthen the presence of civil society in media but also enrich the diversity of voices and opinions that comment on issues important to society in local media outlets.
To download a copy of the manual on “Advocacy through traditional and social media: A guideline for CSOs and activists” in Albanian, click here.
To download a copy of the manual on “Photography and Advocacy: A practical guideline” in Albanian, click here.
The report shows what the organisation did to offer high quality journalistic work and to provide citizens with reliable, timely and in-depth reporting as well as BIRN’s contribution to improving media freedom and openness of public institutions.
It also highlights the instances in which BIRN’s work had a strong political and social impact, showing that—despite difficulties—professional journalistic reporting can conclude in tangible results.
The whole report is available here [link].
Audience and market concentration distorts the Albanian media market. The resulting lack of plurality can be detected in television and radio but also with the printed press. This is one of the results of the three-months-long investigative research that the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania (BIRN Albania) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have jointly carried out.
The results of the “Media Ownership Monitor Albania” are presented in Tirana in March 2018. They shed light on the Albanian media market by disclosing who owns and ultimately controls mass media.
The results of the project are accessible in Albanian and English on albania.mom-rsf.org. The site offers comprehensive information about the media landscape in the country, including a database of major media outlets, companies and their owners, as well as their economic and political interests, to the general public.
A regional comparison of how media report on cases of organized crime and corruption in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia analysing the main obstacles faced by reporters.
BIRN’s project “Exercising the Freedom of Expression and Openness of State Institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia” supported by the German Federal Foreign Office Stability Pact fund, was a regional, 10-month long project with aim to contribute to professionalizing media reporting on legal proceedings related to organized crime and corruption.
The project also intended to increase public awareness on the issues of access to justice and contribute towards more transparent and more responsive institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia.
The project resulted with three unique country-based and one cross-regional analysis, the first of its kind offering a regional perspective on this topic.
Aside from the looking at how media report on the topic, the study also sought to unpack why media report on organized crime and corruption in the way they do. Specifically, the study sought to identify the challenges and constraints faced by media organizations across the region when it comes to reporting on organized crime and corruption.
Download reports in English
Download reports in Albanian
Download reports in BHS
E-book entitled ‘Ratko Mladic: From Battlefield to Courtroom’ was published in November 2017, ahead of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic’s war crimes verdict.
The book is downloadable free of charge, contains all BIRN’s reports on the case. The e-book contains more than 500 articles and runs to more than 600 pages. Mladic’s trial, which began in 2011, lasted for 530 days and heard evidence from 591 witnesses, of whom 377 appeared in court.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network has published an e-book about the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, aiming to increase understanding about the newly-established court that will try ex-guerrillas for crimes during and after the war.
BIRN’s e-book, entitled ‘Kosovo Specialist Chambers: From Investigations to Indictments, published on October 31, 2017, includes expert analysis, interviews and archive reports that trace the history of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers from the initial Council of Europe investigation into wartime and post-war crimes by Kosovo Liberation Army fighters to the establishment of the new court to try them in The Hague.
Documentary ‘Your House was My Home’, which tells how Serbs and Croats from Kula in Croatia and Hrtkovci in Serbia swapped houses and moved to each other’s villages after the outbreak of war in 1991, had its television premiere on Al Jazeera Balkans in September 2017.
The half-hour documentary follows the stories of two of the villages’ residents – Goran Trlaic, who left Kula for Hrtkovci, and Stjepan Roland, who left Hrtkovci for Kula. Before the 1990s conflict, Kula was predominantly populated by Serbs, while the majority of the people in Hrtkovci in Serbia.
Since the end of World War II, they had lived peacefully together – until the first multi-party elections in 1990, when nationalists came to power and minorities were not welcome in either republic anymore.
A series of threats and violent incidents started a chain reaction as increasing numbers of inhabitants of Kula and Hrtkovci exchanged properties so they could escape to safety.
This was described by officials as ‘humane relocation’, but it was actually a forced population exchange in the midst of a war.
The personal recollections in ‘Your House Was My Home’ show how this forced population exchange had a devastating long-term effect on the lives and relationships of ordinary people from both villages, said Baljak.
See more information about the film here.