BIRN BiH director at judicial summer school

BIRN BiH director, Nerma Jelacic, spoke at a regional summer school on Transitional Justice for the judiciary on August 27 in Igalo, Montenegro. The event was organised by UNDP’s regional Transitional Justice Programme and included two seven-day training sessions for parliamentarians and the judicial representatives of the region. Jelacic spoke on the complimentarity of truth commissions and criminal justice systems in the region.

Other speakers included Sinisa Vazic, president of the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court and president of Belgrade District Court, Meddzida Kreso, president of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Dejan Anastasijevic, a journalist from Vreme magazine.

An abridged version of Jelacic’s talk is on BIRN’s website . To find out more about BIRN’s Justice Programme, contact Nerma Jelacic at

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 or . Find out more about the association on

“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.


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

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 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

War Crimes Debate in Brcko District

BIRN BiH’s series of Transitional Justice events for civil society leaders continued last week with a round-table debate in Brcko on October 29.

Designed to stimulate dialogue between the new War Crimes Chamber and the public, the event brought together more than 40 representatives of non-governmental organisations, local government, victims associations and lawyers from BiH’s north-east.

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.

War Crimes Conference

BIRN BiH is organising a conference on November 10 entitled “In Pursuit of Justice: An overview of progress in the transitional justice system of BiH”.

The conference is the concluding part of the 2005 Transitional Justice Project, run by BIRN to prepare the media and civil society sector in BiH for the start of trials at the State Court of BiH and the transfer of cases from the Hague tribunal, ICTY, to Sarajevo.

Speakers include Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor of the ICTY, Medzida Kreso, president of the State Court of BiH, Marinko Jurcevic, BiH chief prosecutor, Slobodan Kovac, BiH Minister of Justice, Michael Johnson, chief registrar at the State Court and Nicholas Koumjian, special adviser to the BiH chief prosecutor.

The event, sponsored by the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo, will take place on November 10 at the Sarajevo Holiday Inn hotel. For more information, contact BIRN’s office in Sarajevo on 033 444 951 or e-mail Nerma Jelacic.

Norway to Fund BIRN BiH Justice Project in 2006

The Norwegian Embassy in Sarajevo has generously provided BIRN BiH with funding to launch the next phase of its Justice Project.

In 2006, BIRN BiH plans to produce a weekly report on local war crimes trials and facilitate wide public debate on the war crimes justice process amongst Bosnians at home and in the substantial diaspora.

For more information on how to get involved in supporting this project, contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.

BIRN BiH to Launch War Crimes Legal Manual

BIRN BiH will this month publish its manual on the War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo.

The guidebook, in both Bosnian and English languages, will be distributed to media outlets and civil society groups throughout BiH as well as selected organisations in Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro.

Designed to aid journalists and NGO representatives following local war crimes trials, the book explains the statute, structure and mandate of the newly formed court, as well as legal issues, changes to the country’s criminal procedure and special provisions recently introduced for witnesses.

Publication of the guidebook will mark the end of BIRN BiH’s year-long Transitional Justice project which was kindly sponsored by the Swiss Embassy in Sarajevo. The guidebook as well as BIRN BiH’s plans for the following year will be launched at a special event in January.
For more information on BIRN BiH’s Justice Project, please contact BIRN BiH Director Nerma Jelacic.