BIRN Publishes Radovan Karadzic Trial E-Book

Ahead of the former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic’s war crimes verdict this week, BIRN has compiled all its reports on the landmark case into a free, downloadable e-book.

BIRN published a new e-book on Tuesday entitled ‘Radovan Karadzic: Wartime Leader’s Years on Trial’, ahead of the former Bosnian Serb wartime president’s final trial verdict on March 20.

The e-book, which is downloadable free of charge, contains all BIRN’s reports on the case, from the period when Karadzic was on the run to when he was caught and extradited, and throughout the whole of the trial that followed.

Published in English and in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, it includes over 570 articles and runs to more than 1,100 pages.

This is the third e-book published by BIRN. The first was an in-depth e-book containing reports and analyses about the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, while the second one was a compilation of reports on Ratko Mladic’s trial.

Karadzic’s trial began in 2009, lasted for 499 days and heard 586 witnesses.

He was initially indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in 1995. He then spent 12 years on the run, and was finally arrested in Belgrade in 2008 and extradited to the UN tribunal.

The first-instance verdict in 2016 found him guilty of the Srebrenica genocide, the persecution and extermination of Croats and Bosniaks from 20 municipalities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and being a part of a joint criminal enterprise to terrorise the civilian population of Sarajevo during the siege of the city. He was also found guilty of taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

To download the e-book, click here.

Source: Balkan Insight

Fact-Checking for Accountable Media

BIRN Kosovo

Through this project, BIRN Kosovo wants to contribute to educating local media on the standards of fact-checking in order to develop their capacities to use the standards in their daily work.

Summary

Through this project, BIRN Kosovo wants to raise awareness among local media on International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) standards, improve skills of journalists and students of journalism on the verification of facts and contribute to increasing the accountability of politicians, state officials and local media, through the measurement of truth using our fact-checking tool, Krypometer.

Information Sheet

Donor:

KCSF – Kosovo Civil Society Foundation

Main Objective:

To contribute to educating local media on the standards of fact-checking in order to develop their capacities to use the standards in their daily work.

Specific Objective:

Specific Objective 1: Contribute to identifying inaccurate media reporting and public statements;

Specific Objective 2: Raising capacities of local media, journalists, and students of journalism on IFCN standards;

Specific Objective 3: Promotion of standards for fact-verification in televised reports.

Main Activities:

  • Activity 1: Publication of Verification of Facts
  • Activity 2: Training for local media on Verification of Facts
  • Activity 3: Training with journalists from mainstream media
  • Activity 4: One 2-day training course for students of journalism on Verification of Facts
  • Activity 5: Televised documentary on false statements by public officials

Target Groups:

Local media, including TV and radio in municipalities across Kosovo. Through this project, BIRN Kosovo aspires to particularly benefit students of journalism. In addition, through  reporting on BIRN Kosovo’s media platforms, the project strives to educate the public on the importance of accurate news, and specifically, the accuracy and accountability of public officials and political representatives.

Main implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Royal Norwegian Embassy

DONOR
The objective of the Norwegian support to the Western Balkans is to promote development stability and democracy.

Norway supports many initiatives in Kosovo as well as the region to encourage regional cooperation, good governance through the development of rule of law, civil society, and the media, socio-economic development as well as reconciliation and implementation of transitional justice.

Web: www.norway.no/en/kosovo

BIRN and D+ Publish Report on Kosovo Tax Administration

BIRN Kosovo and Democracy Plus, D+, with the support of the British Embassy, organised a roundtable discussion on March 11 to talk about their newly-published Monitoring Report on the Integrity of Kosovo’s Tax Administration, TAK.

At the discussion, findings from work carried out between September 2018 to February 2019 were published – a seven-month period of direct monitoring. This is among the first reports of its kind to be produced and published by local NGOs.

Download report in PDF

The monitoring was launched as a result of the reported low level of confidence that citizens have in TAK, and their perceptions about the level of corruption in the institution.

The aim of the report was to identify the ‘black holes’ in the process and raise red flags about the need for improvements in the standards, procedures and legal bases which enable and improve integrity within TAK.

Kreshnik Gashi, managing editor at BIRN’s Kallxo.com site, and Visar Rushiti, Policy Analyst at Democracy Plus, presented the findings of the monitoring report.

“This is one of the first reports produced by civil society on this topic and which looks into what is happening in TAK in depth,” said Gashi.

Thomas Adams, the deputy head of the British Embassy in Kosovo, said that the United Kingdom would support the findings and the recommendations of the report published by BIRN and D+.

The report concluded that TAK must seriously engage in improving the overall situation at the institution. Among the 15 recommendations made, BIRN and D+ suggested improvements to the Disciplinary Commission of TAK, the efficiency of its staff and resources, and for tax inspectors to be included among the public officials required to declare their assets.

The director of the Kosovo Tax Administration, Ilir Murtezaj, said that the institution will try to make changes according to the issues raised in the monitoring report.

“We will try to address the findings and recommendations of the report and implement them to the fullest possible level. We have implemented some of the findings that are in the report, such as the creation of a Disciplinary Commission,” said Murtezaj.

The discussion was attended by Kosovo Finance Minister Bedri Hamza and  Afrim Atashi, the director of the Corruption Prevention Department at the Anti-Corruption Agency, as well as representatives of NGOs and relevant institutions.

Download report in PDF

Egypt to Probe Fake ‘Cleopatras’ After BIRN/ARIJ Revelations

After BIRN/ARIJ reports lifted the lid on the way millions of fake ‘Cleopatra’ cigarettes were being smuggled into North Africa from the Balkans, Egypt’s parliament has demanded an official probe.

The Egyptian parliament’s Industry Committee has urged the country’s state prosecutor to start a criminal investigation into cigarette smuggling – after a series of in-depth investigative reports published by BIRN/ARIJ revealed that the country’s most popular brand was being mass-produced and smuggled in from the Balkans.

The committee said prosecutors needed to look into whether Eastern Company managers had neglected to stop the flow of counterfeit cigarettes from Montenegro and Albania into the country.

“The defaulters [must be held] accountable for what they did due to inaction and not guarding public money, and so the subject should be referred to the General Prosecutor to investigate it and find out the truth,” the committee said in the official report obtained by BIRN, issued in February.

A series of BIRN/ARIJ reports in December 2018 detailed how both state-owned and private factories in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Greece were involved in a contraband business that has netted vast profits and cost a number of countries significant losses in tax revenues.

Egypt’s No 1 brand cigarette, Cleopatra, was born in 1961 when then ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser asked for a local version of the smuggled American Kent brand that he liked to smoke. Created by the Eastern Company, Cleopatra is now one of the most widely smoked cigarettes in North Africa and a top seller globally.

The BIRN/ARIJ investigations noted that Egypt, the UK and the EU’s anti-fraud office, OLAF, had considered the flow of cigarettes coming out of Montenegro’s Duvanski Kombinat Podgorica, DKP, “counterfeit”, suspecting they were being channeled to Libyan smugglers who distributed them illegally across North Africa.

Egypt asked repeatedly through diplomatic channels for Montenegro to shut the operation down.

Production did stop finally in 2016, but only after the factory was privatised and came under new ownership.

But the offshore firm that contracted the factory to produce the cigarettes has not given up, according to the BIRN/ARIJ investigations; it set up new production lines in Kosovo and invested 1 million euros in a new operation in Montenegro.

Muhammad Faud, a member of the Egyptian parliament, told the hearing that Eastern’s management had not protected the local Cleopatra brand, which had led its products being counterfeited in Albania and Montenegro.

This had “led to a waste the public money” he said, and to “falsified Cleopatra products that were not manufactured by the Eastern Company taking about 30 per cent of the market”.

Eastern’s parent company, Chemical Industries Holding, has insisted it has done its best to protect the brand. It said registering as many as 548 special trademarks around the world would have cost billions.

It also said that it had a complete dossier of exchanged communications between it and the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and the Egyptian embassy concerning measures taken to stop violations of its trademark and the manufacture of fake Cleopatra cigarettes.

“As a result of the efforts made, the factory producing forged products in Albania was stopped in 2015 for one year, but later started functioning again,” the company said.

The BIRN/ARIJ reports said the counterfeit cigarettes would have been virtually indistinguishable from the originals produced by Eastern Company in Cairo.

The labels bear the words “Made in Egypt”, as well as Egyptian health warnings and a claim to be produced by “Eastern Company”.

The BIRN ARIJ reports said increased taxes on cigarettes in Egypt from the 2010s onward had created a booming black market for the product.

Meanwhile, lawlessness in neighbouring Libya since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi has turned the country into a smuggler’s paradise.

Source: Balkan Insight

15 applicants benefit from BIRN’s-EU funded grant scheme

Out of 46 applications by non-governmental and media organisations and individuals, 15 of the submitted proposals have been selected for BIRN’s Medium and Small Grant Scheme, funded by the European Union.

Through this project, named “Support to Civil Society and Media Initiatives”, BIRN aims to improve the overall accountability and transparency of institutions, as well as promote human rights through the stories, documentaries and other journalistic work of the applicants.

The grant scheme is designed to contribute to strengthening independent, investigative and publicly beneficial journalism and freedom of expression in Kosovo, and will provide 13 applicants with small grants of 5,000 euros or less, and two applicants with medium grants, which range from 20,000 to 30,000 euros.

The total amount of the money to be awarded to the grantees as part of the scheme reached 103, 636.50 euros.

The grantees were selected by a professional jury, which met for the first time on January 22 to evaluate the 46 applicants. The jury evaluated 41 applications that fulfilled the eligibility criteria, while during the meeting each member of the jury presented their evaluations for each individual applicant, their comments and then a discussion ensued.

Their decision was based upon the relevance of the proposed actions and activities, creativity, quality of the financial offer, the project team’s potential and previous experience of the applicant.

The objective for the selected applicants will be to contribute to the development of investigative journalism and freedom of expression, increasing the skills of media professionals in monitoring, fact-checking and accountability across Kosovo for the public benefit. The selected projects will engage in a variety of activities including capacity building, investigative reporting, the production of documentaries, analysis of public documents and will address issues related to freedom of expression, protection of minority rights, women’s rights and the fight against corruption.

13 applicants from the selected list were awarded grants from Lot 1, Supporting document-based reporting on themes related to good governance, education, environment, economy, local governance and human rights, and 2 applicants selected were awarded grants from Lot 2, one concerned with combating high-level corruption,  and the other promoting and protecting the rights of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities.

All applicants received individual replies about their application, which also included an evaluation form with points and comments from the jury.

Below is attached the list of the successful applicants of the Call for Proposals for the Medium and Small Grant Scheme package to “Contribute to strengthening independent, investigative and publicly beneficial journalism and freedom of expression in Kosovo” project.

List of awarded grantees


15 kandidatë përfitojnë nga skema e granteve të BIRN, financuar nga BE

Prej 46 aplikacioneve nga organizata të ndryshme joqeveritare, organizata mediale dhe individë, 15 nga propozimet e paraqitura janë përzgjedhur për Skemën e Granteve të Mesme dhe të Vogla të BIRN-it, financuar nga Bashkimi Evropian.

Nëpërmjet këtij projekti, të quajtur “Përkrahja për Shoqërinë Civile dhe Iniciativat nga Mediat”, BIRN synon të përmirësojë llogaridhënien e përgjithshme dhe transparencën e institucioneve, si dhe të promovojë të drejtat e njeriut përmes tregimeve, dokumentarëve dhe punëve të tjera gazetareske të kandidatëve.

Skema e këtij granti është projektuar që të kontribuojë në forcimin e një gazetarie të pavarur, hetuese dhe me dobi publike si dhe lirinë e shprehjes në Kosovë si dhe do ti  pajisë 13 kandidatë me grante të vogla, në shumën prej 5,000 Euro ose më pak, dhe dy kandidatë me grante të mesme, shuma e të cilave do të jetë nga 20,000 deri në 30,000 Euro.

Shuma totale e të hollave që do t’u ndahen përfituesve të granteve si pjesë e skemës ka arritur në 103, 636.50 Euro.

Përfituesit e granteve u përzgjodhën nga një juri profesionale, e cila u takua për herë të parë më 22 janar për të vlerësuar të 46 kandidatët. Juria vlerësoi 41 aplikacione që përmbushën kriteret e pranueshmërisë, ndërsa gjatë takimit secili anëtar i jurisë paraqiti vlerësimet e tyre për secilin kandidat individual, komentet e tyre dhe pastaj vazhdohej me diskutime.

Vendimi i tyre bazohej në rëndësinë e veprimeve dhe aktiviteteve të propozuara, kreativitetit, cilësisë së ofertës financiare, potencialit të ekipit të projektit dhe përvojës së mëparshme të kandidatit.

Qëllimi i kandidatëve të përzgjedhur do të jetë të kontribuojnë në zhvillimin e gazetarisë hulumtuese dhe lirisë së shprehjes, duke rritur aftësitë e profesionistëve medialë në monitorimin, kontrollin e fakteve dhe llogaridhënien në Kosovë për të mirën e publikut.

Projektet e përzgjedhura do të angazhohen në një sërë aktivitetesh duke përfshirë ndërtimin e kapaciteteve, raportimin hetimor, prodhimin e dokumentarëve, analizën e dokumenteve publike dhe do të trajtojë çështjet që kanë të bëjnë me lirinë e shprehjes, mbrojtjen e të drejtave të pakicave, të drejtat e grave dhe luftën kundër korrupsionit.

13 kandidatë nga lista e përzgjedhur kanë përfituar nga Pjesa 1, dokumenti mbështetës-bazuar në raportime mbi temat që lidhen me qeverisjen e mirë, arsimin, mjedisin, ekonominë, qeverisjen lokale dhe të drejtat e njeriut, dhe dy kandidatë janë përzgjedhur përfitues nga Pjesa 2, njëri prej tyre ka të bëjë me luftimin e korrupsionit të nivelit të lartë, ndërsa tjetri ka të bëjë me promovimin dhe mbrojtjen e të drejtave të komunitetit rom, ashkali dhe egjiptian.

Të gjithë kandidatët pranuan përgjigje individuale rreth aplikimit të tyre, ku po ashtu përfshihej edhe një formular vlerësimi me pikat dhe komentet nga juria.

Më poshtë mund ta gjeni të bashkangjitur listën e kandidatëve të suksesshëm të Thirrja për Propozime për Paketën e Skemës së granteve të Mesme dhe të Vogla në projektin “Kontributi për fuqizimin e gazetarisë së pavarur, hulumtuese dhe për të mirën publike si dhe lirisë së shprehjes në Kosovë.”

Lista e perfituesve te granteve


15 kandidata dobitnici šeme grantova BIRN-a, koju finansira EU

Od 46 prijava nevladinih i medijskih organizacija i pojedinaca, 15 predloga izabrano je za Šemu malih i srednjih grantova BIRN-a, koju je finansijski omogućila Evropska unija.

Ovim projektom koji nosi naziv „Podrška građanskom društvu i medijskim inicijativama”, BIRN ima za cilj da poboljša opštu odgovornost i transparentnost institucija i da promoviše ljudska prava kroz objavljivanje novinarskih priča, dokumentarnih filmova i drugih novinarskih radova kandidata.

Šema grantova je osmišljena tako da doprinese jačanju nezavisnog, istraživačkog novinarstva za dobrobit javnosti i slobode izražavanja na Kosovu i obezbeđuje male grantove u iznosu do 5,000 evra za 13 kandidata, dok će dva kandidata  dobiti srednje grantove, čija se vrednost kreće u rasponu od 20,000 do 30,000 evra.

Ukupan iznos novca koji će se dodeliti dobitnicima grantova, u sklopu ove šeme, dostigao je 103, 636.50 evra.

Dobitnike grantova  izabrao je profesionalni žiri, koji se sastao prvi put 22. januara da proceni svih 46 kandidata. Žiri je procenio 41 prijavu koja je ispunjavala formalne kriterijume, dok je tokom sastanka svaki član žirija predstavio svoje ocene i komentare za svakog kandidata pojedinačno, nakon čega je nastavljeno sa diskusijom.

Njihova odluka je zasnovana na značaju predloženih radnji i aktivnosti, kreativnosti, kvalitetu njihove finansijske ponude, potencijalu projektnog tima i prethodnom iskustvu kandidata.

Cilj izabranih kandidata biće da doprinesu razvoju istraživačkog novinarstva i slobode izražavanja, podizanjem veština medijskih stručnjaka na praćenju, proveri činjenica i odgovornosti na Kosovu, za dobrobit javnosti.

Izabrani projekti će biti uključeni u niz aktivnosti, među kojima one o izgradnji kapaciteta, istraživačkom izveštavanju, izradi dokumentaraca, analizi javnih dokumenata i pozabaviće se pitanjima u vezi sa slobodom izražavanja, zaštitom prava manjinskih zajednica, žena i borbom protiv korupcije.

13 kandidata sa izabrane liste su dobitnici grantova iz Lot. 1: Izveštavanje o temama u vezi sa dobrom upravom, obrazovanjem, životnom sredinom, privredom, lokalnom upravom i ljudskim pravima, a dva kandidata su izabrana za dobitnike Lot 2: Jedan od njih se bavi suzbijanjem korupcije visokog nivoa, dok se drugi bavi promovisanjem i zaštitom prava zajednica Roma, Aškalija i Egipćana.

Svi kandidati su dobili individualne odgovore u vezi sa prijavama, što je takođe podrazumevalo i obrazac procene sa bodovima i komentarima žirija.

U nastavku možete naći listu uspešnih kandidata u sklopu Poziva za podnošenje predloga za paket šeme malih i srednjih subvencija na projektu „Doprinos jačaju nezavisnog, istraživačkog novinarstva za dobrobit javnosti i slobode izražavanja na Kosovu.”

Lista dobitnika subvencija

CSOs as Equal Partners in Monitoring Public Finances

BIRN Kosovo

Although CSOs in the Western Balkans have been implementing diverse activities related to public finance and financial institutions, these activities have not been systematically conducted.

Summary

Within the region the influence of CSOs in policy and decision making on public finance is poor. Therefore, CSOs recognized the growing need for systematic monitoring of public finance and financial institutions. The existing know-how in the region can be upgraded through the sharing and transfer among various shareholders.

Information Sheet

Donor:

European Commission

Main Objective:

The overall objective of the action is to improve the accountability and transparency of the public finance in seven targeted countries by strengthening the CSOs role and voice in monitoring the institutions’ performance in the area of public finance.

Specific Objective:

Strengthening regional CSO knowledge and capacity to monitor public finances and build know-how in advocating for transparency and accountability of public finance among the 10 partners and 80 other CSOs in the region

Establish networking and cooperation platform of CSOs and other actors on monitoring of public finance at local, regional and EU level.

Strengthen CSO watchdog and advocacy role.

Main Activities:

  • Sharing of know-how
  • Networking
  • WP3 Monitoring / watchdog
  • Advocacy
  • Communication
  • Organizational capacity building

Target Groups:

  • Civil society organisations,
  • Public authorities,
  • Media

Main implementer:

Foundation Wings of Hope (Leading Partner – Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Donor:

BIRN Kosovo, Za Zamiata (Bulgaria), Fractal (Serbia), CEKOR (Serbia), NVO MANS (Montenegro), Analytica (Macedonia), EnaBana (Slovenia), FOCUS (Slovenia), Center for Ecology and Energy (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Supporting Civil Society to Increase Public Oversight and Accountability of Kosovo Public Institutions

BIRN Kosovo

Promoting the watchdog function of local CSOs and good governance, transparency and accountability of public institutions.

Summary

Promoting the watchdog function of local CSOs and good governance, transparency and accountability of public institutions in the following areas:  recruitment processes across public institutions, including the judiciary;  handling of public procurement contracts;  compliance of tax inspectors with professional standards and conflict of interest legislation; and  compliance of targeted institutions with recommendations of the Auditor General Reports.

Information Sheet

Donor:

British Embassy in Pristina

Main Objective:

Increased transparency on the implementation of the EU-backed Kosovo-Serbia agreement that specifically affects the lives of citizens at the local level through producing and publishing accurate information for the public.

Main Objective:

  • To increase citizens’ awareness and accountability from public institutions regarding auditing processes, recruitment, and tax administration.

Target Groups:

To increase citizens’ awareness and  accountability from public institutions regarding auditing processes, recruitment, and tax administration.

Target Groups:

Identification of cases of violations of open and fair recruitment processes in public institutions.

Information related to recruitment processes is made available to raise public awareness.

Identificating violations related to corruption, tax evasion, informal economy activities, and conflict of interest; Analysis of the current situation and identification of legal changes needed;

Analysis of 2014 to 2017 National Audit Reports for all targeted institutions

BIG Deal – Monitoring of the Implementation of the Brussels Agreement

BIRN Kosovo

Supporting the monitoring of the Brussels agreement between Kosovo and Serbia and ensuring a transparent and accountable leadership.

Summary

Supporting the monitoring of the Brussels agreement between Kosovo and Serbia and ensuring a transparent and accountable leadership.

Information Sheet

Donor:

The Balkan Trust for Democracy – BTD

Main Objective:

Increased transparency on the implementation of the EU-backed Kosovo-Serbia agreement that specifically affects the lives of citizens at the local level through producing and publishing accurate information for the public.

Specific Objectives: 

  • Shaping attitudes in order for the community to create a permissive environment for successful prevention of violent extremism;
  • Encourage public participation in prevention of violent extremism and the process of building resilience.

Main Activities:

  • Monitoring the progress reached in the implementation of the Brussels agreement. All findings will be published as part of the BIG DEAL initiative and will be disseminated across local, regional and international stakeholders;
  • Publishing news in Albaninan, Serbian and English regarding the implementation of the agreement, generated by researching and monitoring activities on a bi-monthly basis;
  • Producing and publishing TV programs on justice integration and the association of the municipalities.

Target Groups:

  • Negotiators,
  • Decision makers
  • Civil Society

Highlights:

By providing more information to the citizens regarding the dialogue, they will become part of the decision making process, which will improve the relationship between communities in Kosovo and will create a safer environment. All commuities of Kosovo will be involved and will gain knowledge while criticizing, supporting, and pushing for a better implementation of the Brussels Agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

Monitoring the Public Consultation Process at Government Level 2018

BIRN Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo, through this initiative, is engaged in monitoring Kosovo’s judicial system.

Summary

BIRN Kosovo monitors the public consultation process for relevant government documents developed during 2018 and report on monitoring outcomes.

Information Sheet

Donor:

Kosovo Civil Society Foundation (KCSF)

Main Objective:

Pressure on the Government of Kosovo during the decision-making process and policy-making to increase the participation of the civil society in the involved processes for the benefit of citizens

Specific Objectives: 

  • Shaping attitudes in order for the community to create a permissive environment for successful prevention of violent extremism;
  • Encourage public participation in prevention of violent extremism and the process of building resilience.

Main Activities:

  • Undertaking monitoring
  • Communicating with the respective governmental unit to anticipate the starting time and expected results of the process;

Target Groups:

  • Public Institutions;
  • Civil Society;
  • Media Outlets.