BIRN Regional Network Board to Meet

The members of BIRN’s regional board are to meet in Sarajevo from February 18 to 23.

At this, its first official meeting since BIRN was fully launched last autumn as an independent organisation, the Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart will report on activities to date and issues for 2006.

The Board will also instruct the Director on the further strengthening of inter-organisational relations between the seven members of the BIRN Network.

For more information on the BIRN Network, please contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

Justice Report launched in Bosnia

BIRN BiH on March 6 launched a specialised news agency, designed to cover war crimes trials before Bosnia and Herzegovina’s State Court.

The new service, Justice Report, is dedicated to bringing local war crimes trials closer to the citizens of BiH and the wider region through accurate, objective and prompt reporting.

Besides covering the trials and their impact on society, the agency will also concentrate on developments within the Bosnian judiciary, and the impact of the country’s transitional justice model on other states facing similar daunting tasks.

Produced in the Bosnian and English languages, Justice Report will be available free of charge to local and regional media and interested individuals.

Justice Report is an integral part of BIRN BiH’s activities in 2006 aimed at promoting truth, justice and reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If you are interested in receiving Justice Report by email, or for more information, please contact BIRN BiH country director Nerma Jelacic.

This project is currently funded by the Norwegian foreign ministry.

MDLF Assistance at BIRN Board Meeting Takes Network Forward

The Media Development Loan Fund generously granted assistance to BIRN at its February 19-22 board meeting, with legal expert Milan Lukic advising on corporate structuring to respond to BIRN’s strategic plans.

Board members who gathered in Sarajevo, BIRN’s regional headquarters, successfully put in motion a process which will refine Network relations and establish a commercial subsidiary.

BIRN, a close group of six territorially-based non-governmental organisations, plus a regional coordinating ‘hub’, plans to part-finance its projects by generating income through its expanding editorial output.

For more information on BIRN’s sustainability plans, contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

Kosovo Documentary in High Demand

Following the final regional premiere of Does Anyone Have a Plan? on February 20 in Sarajevo, BIRN has received dozens of requests for special screenings and debates, as well as television broadcasts.

Already shown at primetime on Radio Television Serbia, Radio Television Kosovo, Macedonia’s Channel 5 and Bulgaria’s bTV, the film is now to be broadcast on all main BiH channels and dozens of local stations throughout the region.

A large number of embassies, NGOs and international organisations in the Balkans are making special screenings and debates, while internationally, prestigious academic institutions such as the Central European University in Budapest, University College London, the London School of Economics, and Oxford University are doing the same.

BIRN is furthermore actively entering the documentary in international film festivals, and will get its first such showing on March 23 at the “It’s All True” Documentary Film Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

All requests for information about the film, screening or broadcasting it, as well as DVD copies in English, Bosnian, Serbian, Albanian and Macedonian languages, please contact BIRN Regional Network Director Anna McTaggart.

This project was financed by the Swiss foreign ministry.

Nerma Jelacic Takes Part in an Expert Panel in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

BIRN BiH director, Nerma Jelacic, took part in an expert panel at a training session of young Bosnian lawyers in the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on May 20.

Organised by the Criminal Defence Section, the conference gathered students of law from across the country and examined the role of the state court in trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Jelacic spoke about the need for open trials and the role of the media and civil society groups in the rule of law.

Other speakers were judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers and international experts on humanitarian law.

Nerma Jelacic Speeks at Budapest Conference

BIRN BiH director, Nerma Jelacic, was a speaker at an international conference in Budapest on May 17.

The conference, organized by the Hungarian Europe Society gathered Balkan and international experts to discuss social, political and security challenges in the region. Jelacic spoke about the media and war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia in the early Nineties.

She warned that many journalists who spread ethnic hatred during the war remain active in the media field. She called on the international community to see that the democratisation of the media is completed before pulling out of development programmes in this sector.

Other speakers included Dr Erhard Busek, Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for the South East Europe; Sonja Biserko, director of Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Serbia; Goran Svilanovic, members of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia; Reinhard Priebe of the European Commission Enlargement Directorate General; Fernardo Gentilini, Council of the European Union; and Matthew Rycroft, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

OSF Will Support BIRN BiH Justice Project

BIRN BiH is pleased to announce that Open Society Fund in Sarajevo will support its ongoing Justice project.

The Open Society will sponsor BIRN’s project which aims to bring justice closer to the Bosnian citizens and international audiences with a donation of 50,000 euro. The money will be used for continued production of Justice Report, a specialised bi-lingual publication which follows trials at Sarajevo ‘s War Crimes Chamber and related justice issues.

The project also includes initiatives for improving understanding between the judiciary and civil society. BIRN’s Justice Dialogue and Justice for All projects are specially created to inform Bosnians throughout the country and living in exile about the country’s progress in dealing with the past.

Justice Report has recorded month-on-month increases in its readership since its launch.

The publication’s website, www.bim.ba has had almost 200,000 visitors, most of them from
Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If you wish to subscribe to Justice Report or find out more about this service please contact BIRN BiH director Nerma Jelacic on nerma@birn.eu.com.