The implementation of transitional justice mechanisms represents the only way to secure stability and respect for human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in other places around the world, concluded participants in a panel discussion held as part of the WARM Festival in Sarajevo on June 29.
The discussion on ‘Conventional and unconventional approaches to transitional justice’ dealt with lessons from the Balkan region and their implementation in areas throughout the world where attempts are being made to deal with the consequences of conflicts.
Denis Dzidic, editor at the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovivna, said Bosnia’s biggest failure was in the field of compensation for victims, adding that there was also still no law governing the rights of torture victims.
“We, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, have never gone through an institutional reform,” Dzidic said, adding that the country’s Transitional Justice Strategy was an excellent document, but it had not been implemented.
Tanya Domi of Columbia University in New York said the key issue was how to involve victims in reconciliation processes, how to give them a voice and ensure that they are satisfied with the process of justice.
Myles Wallingford of the Post-Conflict Research Center said his organisation focused on making sure that victims have access to justice and that it uses multimedia projects for memoralisation processes.
Samantha Owens of the Art Works Projects Chicago said her project attempted to expand the lessons learned in Bosnia, Congo and Columbia to the United States, where the racial gap was getting more pronounced.
Speaking on behalf of the Sarajevo Film Festival, Masa Markovic said that last year’s festival presented a programme on ‘Coming to terms with the past’.
She said she wanted films from the region that cover conflict-related topics to reach a broader audience.
Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BIH) editor Erna Mackic was one of the speakers at a side event at a three-day conference reflecting on the legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and how others can build upon its achievements.
Mackic spoke at an event called “How NGOs use ICTY findings and document”.
She reminded the audience about the problems that the Bosnian public have with the State Court and Prosecutor’s Office, not being able to receive indictments and convictions, and explained how they could be more open in their work.
“The situation in BiH is very specific and very often the facts established by the Hague Tribunal have been denied, both by state institutions and the public”, Mackic said.
She also spoke about the importance of ICTY Outreach program:
“We had the opportunity to organise the training of journalists who were at the Hague Tribunal and got acquainted with its work. In different ways we were trying to help ordinary citizens to learn more about the work of the Hague Tribunal,” she said.
More than 300 people attend the ICTY conference in Sarajevo from June 22-24, including judges and staff of the ICTY, stakeholders at the local level, as well as international experts and scholars.
A significant number of the participants were from the former Yugoslavia, including associations of victims, youth, lawyers, politicians, NGOs, academics, media representatives and the general public.
Mirna Buljugic, executive director of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN BiH, took part in a Media Literacy Training session organized by the Community Media Forum Europe, CMFE, at the University of Warmia and Mazury, in Olsztyn, Poland, from June 7th to 9th.
The focus was on freedom of expression and respect of human rights, specifically of Muslims, in the media, including discussing the portrayal of Muslims in the European media and highlighting the main issues and recommendations for improvement.
At several workshops, journalists learned more about how to recognize hate speech and become aware of the legitimate boundaries between freedom of expression and human rights.
Buljugic shared her own experience in the Bosnian media, talking about biased news coverage in which reporting still reflects national and religious identity.
A growing problem in BiH, she noted, is hatred that is spread via the online media, especially in the comments sections of online news portals, since no adequate mechanisms exist either to prevent or sanction such abuses from occurring.
Elameri began her professional career in journalism in 2000. She initially worked for daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz, reporting on social issues, and was also the editor-in-chief of Azra magazine for nine years.
She holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo.
Haris has worked with BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina since September 2016.
He started working as a journalist in 2006. He worked for daily newspaper Oslobodjenje for three years before joining Dnevni List, where he worked for seven years, reporting on local crimes and the work of the judiciary in the field of organised crime, terrorism, corruption and, partially, war crimes.
Semir is an investigative journalist who joined BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 2017.
He has worked as a journalist since 2006. He began his career with START BiH Magazine. In 2009 he joined Zurnal online magazine, where he mainly focused on researching corruption in the health and energy sectors and public procurement.
He graduated in journalism from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Sarajevo.
Semir has attended advanced training courses in journalism, Reuters’ training of trainers and a one-month training course on economic and political reporting in London and Berlin, as well as the BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting.
He was awarded a UNICEF prize for journalistic contribution for the protection and promotion of child rights in print media in 2016.
Admir is an investigative journalist who joined BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina in April 2017 after being involved in daily news reporting for 16 years.
He got his first journalistic experience working for the Tuzla-based TV station TVT in 2001. A year later he joined the then top-circulation daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz, where he focused on investigating corruption, crime and other political and social topics.
When daily newspaper Faktor and its website opened, he became its correspondent from Tuzla, reporting on similar topics. He was the editor-in-chief of a news site called bportal.
He graduated in journalism from the Department of Journalism of the Faculty of Philosophy at Tuzla University in 2005.
He has attended numerous training courses for journalists organised by UNICEF, Save the Children and BIRN.
The Association of Prosecutors of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a non-profit association established under Bosnian law for the purpose of providing support and education for the prosecutors of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, FBiH, and protecting their interests.
The British Embassy in Sarajevo is the official representation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is responsible for developing and maintaining relations between the UK and Bosnia.
The Embassy works proactively with international and local partners to implement a range of development projects supporting the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) priorities.
We administer several funds that assist Bosnia and Herzegovina in the most challenging areas of the transition process. EU accession related reform is the main focus of our programmes including projects in Justice and Home Affairs, political transparency and good governance.
The British Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina has previously supported BIRN’s TV Justice Project.
Civil Rights Defenders is an independent expert organisation founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 1982, with the aim of defending people’s civil and political rights. Their work stretches from their own backyard to countries and regions all over the world.
One of the CRD’s main tasks is to empower its partners – brave human rights defenders, who often put themselves at great risk through their engagement for other people’s rights.
Civil Right Defenders, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, has supported BIRN Albania since July 2014, to conduct a study on self-censorship in the Albanian media.
BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina
Civil Right Defenders through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency has supported BIRN BiH since October 2011, providing funding for the implementation of the Justice Series Programme.