BIRN Documentaries Recognised as Source for Educators

Devedesete.net, a website developed with historians from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, has named two films made by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) as an important source about the history of the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia.

The Association of European Educators of History, EUROCLIO, in cooperation with associations of history teachers and educators from the former Yugoslav region, recently launched the Devedesete.net website, which contains materials intended to help teach subjects related to the 1990s wars.

The materials include Hague Tribunal verdicts and two documentaries produced by BIRN BiH – ‘Missing You’, about the relatives of missing persons, and ‘Silent Scream’ about the traumas still experienced by wartime sexual abuse victims in Bosnia.

“Our idea was to show to teachers there are materials beyond the curriculum that can be used when teaching about the 1990 wars in a modern and responsible manner. Those include various databases, literature, documentaries and feature films, museum exhibitions, memorials, as well as various NGO projects,” said Aleksandar Todosijevic of the Association for Social History of Serbia EUROCLIO.

Media reporting on organised crime and corruption in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia

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.

 

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BIRN Holds ‘Let’s Hear Women’ Workshop in Banja Luka

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) held the last of four ‘Let’s Hear Women’ workshops on media communication for women’s rights activists on February 15 in Banja Luka.

Fifteen activists from 11 non-governmental organisations from Banja Luka, Bihac and Buzim were given training to raise the profile of their cause in mainstream media.

After theoretical advice about the importance of taking an active part in public debate and the usage of social networks in NGOs’ work, BIRN BiH staged a practical workshop. The participants gave interviews on camera, watched the results, and were given feedback and recommendations about their on-screen presence and speaking style.

In order to improve interaction with their audiences on social networks, they were introduced to the targeted boosting of Facebook posts. A set of guidelines on writing and distributing public statements was offered, as well one about sending official emails.

BIRN BiH held the four ‘Let’s Hear Women’ workshops in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar and Banja Luka, supported by the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A total of 46 women from 32 organisations were given training in public speaking and media communication.

Soldier Praising Mladic Faces Discipline After BIRN Report

Defence Ministry is mulling measures against Bosnian army soldier whose activities on social networks were reported by BIRN.

The Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina has launched disciplinary proceedings against a soldier named Djordje Tojcic, whose Instagram profile praised the former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic.

The International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, in The Hague, found Mladic guilty of genocide in the town of Srebrenica and of other war crimes.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN BIH, reported that police were investigating allegation about Tojcic’s activities on social networks.

It said police had reviewed the allegations about Tojcic, who on his Instagram profile published a picture of Mladic’s military cap from the 1992-5 war in Bosnia with the description: “Europe knows, but will not admit, the general fought against terrorism.”

Following the description of the image, Tojcic added the message: “Thank you for everything!!”

Bosnia’s Defence Ministry stated that measures would be imposed on Tojcic if a disciplinary proceeding confirms the allegations.

BIRN’s Transitional Justice Programme Enters New Phase

Over the next three years, BIRN’s transitional justice initiative, which is supported by the EU, will focus on building the capacities of local media and civil society in order to promote reconciliation and intercultural dialogue.

From 2018 to the end of 2020, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s Balkan Transitional Justice Initiative will work to promote and strengthen transitional justice mechanisms and processes through regular, in-depth, high-quality reporting from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

Supported by the European Union, BIRN has partnered with the Netherlands-based organisation Impunity Watch in order to increase and strengthen the capacities of local journalists, civil society activists and victims’ groups to monitor, effectively engage and shape ongoing transitional justice processes, including the implementation of the EU policy framework on transitional justice.

In the upcoming months, besides daily reporting on transitional justice issues, BIRN’s team will produce investigations across the region, televised debates in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and create a focus page about the newly-established Specialist Chambers in The Hague.

It will also continue to work on data journalism, update BIRN’s war crimes verdict map and develop a new database of wartime mass graves.

BIRN will also support local journalists through training sessions, study tours, small grants and mentoring to report on transitional justice.

Impunity Watch will hold workshops and produce policy papers about victims’ participation and guarantees of non-recurrence.

BIRN’s Transitional Justice Initiative has been run since 2011 and besides the EU, it has been supported by the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Revealing Corruption Remains Challenge for Balkan Media

Reporters on corruption and organised crime in the Balkans are subject to a range of different pressures and challenges – as our comparison of reporting on such cases in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia shows.

Organised crime and corruption are among the key challenges facing the societies of the Western Balkans, with corruption in particular being a key grievance for ordinary citizens and voters.

As in any democracy, the media play a crucial role when it comes to informing the public on these subjects and shaping public debates.

The extent to which the media are able to do so objectively and independently will help the public to both better understand the scale of the problem and assess what their elected representatives and institutions, tasked with upholding the rule of law, are doing to combat organised crime and corruption.

During 2017, BIRN conducted a regional study that examined how the media report on organised crime and corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia.

Aside from the looking at how media report on the topic, the study also sought to unpack why media report on organised crime and corruption in the way they do.

Specifically, our study sought to identify the challenges and constraints faced by media organisations across the region when it comes to reporting on organised crime and corruption.

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BIRN to Host Regional Conference on Media and Rule of Law

BIRN will host a regional conference on access to information and media reporting on investigative and judicial proceedings in cases of organised crime and corruption on Thursday in Sarajevo.

The event will bring together representatives of the judiciary, non-governmental organisations and media representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia.

The conference is being organised as part of a project entitled ‘Exercising Freedom of Expression and the Openness of State Institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia’, supported by German Foreign Office Stability Pact funds and implemented by BIRN Hub in cooperation with BIRN Serbia and BIRN Kosovo.

In 2017, BIRN undertook a regional study which examined how the media report on organised crime and corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia.

As well as looking at how media report on these topics, the study also sought to analyse why media report on organised crime and corruption in the way that they do.

The study also sought to identify the challenges and constraints faced by media organisations across the region when it comes to reporting on organised crime and corruption.

The media monitoring was carried out in the period from April-June 2017 and involved six media outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia respectively as well as five in Kosovo.

In-depth interviews were conducted with 72 people during this period – 29 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 22 in Kosovo and 21 in Serbia. Among those interviewed were a broad range of current or former judges, prosecutors, policemen, lawyers, editors, journalists, politicians and experts.

The project resulted in three unique country-based analyses and one cross-regional analysis, the first such study to offer a regional perspective on this topic.

The findings will be presented on Thursday in Sarajevo, together with a debate divided into three panels, including guests from the media, police and judiciary across the region, who will conduct a dialogue on issues arising from the analyses.

BIRN Bosnia Probes Weak Points in Country’s Judiciary

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN BiH, held a closing press conference for “Rule of Law – disclosed”, a project supported over the past two years by the Netherlands’ MATRA program.

The conference, organized in Sarajevo on November 27, presented analyses of work on the judiciary with a special focus on the processing of organized crime, corruption and terrorism cases over the past year.

BIRN BiH director Mirna Buljugić said the lack of transparency in Bosnia’s judicial institutions, and low level of trust that citizens have in them, are one of the main reasons why BIRN BiH needs to act as a social correctively tool.

Journalist Elameri Skrgic-Mikulic presented analysis on the prosecution of corruption cases before the country’s state-level court, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Some of the main problems it detected are the lack of indictments, discrepancy between reported and prosecuted crimes and a shortage of experienced prosecutors.

One of the good practices institutions have started to use, however, is tracking the flow of money, which can present important evidence, and has an important role in preventing new crimes from taking place.

Denis Dzidic, BIRN BiH editor, speaking about cases related to terrorism, noting a trend towards plea agreements resulting in similar penalties.

Dzidic also detected a lack of an effective mechanism of confiscation of illegally acquired property in cases of organized crime.

All analyses are available at following links:

State Judiciary Failing to Seize Illegally-Acquired Assets

Prosecution’s Internal Struggles Undermine Fight Against Corruption

Terrorism Focus Shifts from Trials to Deradicalisation

BIRN BiH Comprehensivlely Covers Ratko Mladic Verdict

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) journalists reported from The Hague, Srebrenica, Prijedor, Banja Luka and Sarajevo on the day of former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic’s verdict, delivering exclusive reports and reactions.

BIRN BiH’s executive editor Erna Mackic and journalist Admir Muslimovic followed the sentencing of Ratko Mladic in The Hague. They filed reports from the courtroom, in real time, before and after the judgment, along with reactions from those who were most affected by the trial.

BIRN BiH also had a live blog dedicated to the Ratko Mladic verdict, publishing minute-by-minute reactions and news from The Hague, Srebrenica, Prijedor, Banja Luka and Sarajevo. For ten hours, while the blog was live, it had about 1,200 unique visits.

In the week of the Mladic verdict, over 107,000 people visited the Facebook page of detektor.ba. Its Twitter account had 33,500 impressions and the web site www.detektor.ba had more than 4,700 unique visitors.

In cooperation with Radio Free Europe, a TV debate was produced about the first count of Mladic indictment – genocide in 1992 in six Bosnian municipalities.

Journalists and editors from BIRN BiH, as media experts on the subject of war crimes and war crimes prosecutions, commented on Mladic’s verdict for Unsko-Sanska TV, N1 Bosnia and Herzegovina, BHRT public service, BH Radio 1, Federal radio, Radio BIR Zenica, Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera Balkans, Radio Free Europe, RTV Slon, Canton TV Sarajevo, Bihac TV, Hayat, Bljesak  and Kosovo TV Kohavision.

BIRN BiH will this week publish special reports on the Herzeg-Bosnia verdict at the Hague Tribunal.

BIRN Reporters Trained in Mobile Video Journalism

BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina and BIRN Serbia journalists, along with colleagues from seven Bosnian newsrooms and students of journalism, attended a training course in mobile video production from September 22 to 24 in Sarajevo.

The training was done by Voice of America (VOA) Broadcasting Board of Governors trainers, organised by BIRN BiH and supported by the US embassy in Sarajevo.

Thirty journalists and students from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia learnt new approaches and developed their skills in video reporting using new technologies that will be in usage in everyday reporting.

The training was intended to improve the quality and quantity of reporting relevant to web and social media audiences and enhance journalists’ ability to tell stories that engage users through text, pictures, videos and livestreaming.

The training continued the cooperation between BIRN BiH and VOA, which started at the begining of 2017.

BIRN BiH will continue to produce short video stories for VOA , and additional training sessions are being planned for the next year.