BIRN to Help Boost Public Oversight of Kosovo Institutions

BIRN Kosovo has signed a cooperation agreement with a local think tank and the tax authority to increase public oversight and accountability of Kosovo’s public institutions.

BIRN Kosovo signed a memorandum of understanding with Pristina-based think tank Democracy Plus and the Tax Administration of Kosovo, TAK, on Wednesday as part of a project funded by the British embassy in Kosovo to boost public oversight and accountability of public institutions.

Through the cooperation agreement, BIRN, Democracy Plus and TAK aim to increase the overview that the civil society has of tax administration processes, in order to increase the compliance of public institutions.

In its 2018 Country Report on Kosovo, the EU highlighted the ongoing issues of the informal economy and tax evasion in Kosovo, urging for these to be dealt with.

In light of this, the UK-funded project is intended to help tackle these issues and bolster the fight against corruption in Kosovo.

Over the next three years, BIRN and its project partners will seek to establish policies and practices crucial to good governance and address them to compatible authorities.

BIRN Kosovo Holds Prevention of Violent Extremism Training

BIRN Kosovo held a training course for law students in Ferizaj, Kosovo, on October 5 entitled ‘Forms of Violent Extremism and Reporting on Terrorism Cases’.

Key speakers were Drita Hajdari, prosecutor at the Kosovo Special Prosecution, and Kreshnik Gashi, editor of the TV programme, Justice in Kosovo. It was held at AAB College in Ferizaj.

The course aimed to give students the opportunity to discuss cases in which young people from Kosovo were involved in terrorism and terrorist groups, as well as to find out how to prevent radicalisation.

Hajdari and Gashi engaged in an in-depth conversation with the participants and addressed questions on terrorism in Kosovo and methods of reporting cases of terrorism.

Hajdari said that the prosecution, within the framework of the national strategy on the prevention of violent extremism and radicalisation that leads to terrorism, is doing a lot of work on countering terrorism.

She called for a greater cooperation from young people in reporting suspected cases of radicalisaton.

Gashi said that the media in Kosovo is doing its best in reporting cases through investigations. He also noted that the impact of media in combating terrorism is crucial, so outlets must take care not to publish unreliable or false news that misinforms the population.

This course was organised as part of the project ‘With Participatory Democracy for a Kosovo without Radicalization’, funded by the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, GCERF.

BIRN Kosovo is planning to organise similar events in Pristina, Mitrovica, Gjilan and Kacanik.


BIRN Kosovo’s Human Rights Awards Announced

On October 4, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo, in cooperation with The Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture (ACDC), presented awards for three best journalistic pieces on TV, print or online media as part of its Human Rights Reporting Award Competition.

The initiative is intended to boost the coverage of human rights issues and help to set new standards for media reporting in the sphere.

Venera Cocaj and Matko Bulent won the first prize for a story that dealt with one of the least discussed topics in the country and concerned one of the most marginalised groups, the LGBT community, in a documentary “The Sky is Turning” produced by Kosovo 2.0.

Adriana Thaci-Mehmeti from KTV won second prize for a story about the rights of elderly people within the family and in retirement homes.

Besa Kalaja from PreportR and Kaltrina Rexhepi from RTK shared the third prize. Kalaja’s story dealt with the lack of institutional care for the elderly, while Rexhepi created a documentary that looks into the issue of early marriages.

BIRN Kosovo Holds Discussion on Ombudsperson’s Role

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo and the Centre for Advocacy Democracy and Culture, ACDC, organised a discussion in Peja/Pec on October 2 about the role of the Ombudsperson with regards to issues of public interest.

This discussion was held as a part of the OmbudsWatch project, which aims to educate the public about the role and responsibilities of the Ombudsperson, as well as about their right to contact the Ombudsperson’s office about matters of public importance.

The discussion, which took place at the Jusuf Gërvalla cinema in Peja/Pec, was attended by students, journalists and civil society activists.

The key speakers were Kreshnik Gashi, editor and moderator of the TV programme Justice in Kosovo, and Meral Tejeci, senior legal advisor at the Ombudsperson’s office.

Both Gashi and Tejeci, addressed the legal obligations of the Ombudsperson to respond to citizens’ requests, the functions of the Ombudsperson’s office, people’s legal rights to submit complaints, and access to public documents, among other issues.

The discussion was the last to take place in the framework of the OmbudsWatch project, and participants were given pamphlets as a guide to making enquiries at the Ombudsperson’s office.

BIRN Announces Funding for Monitoring Public Finances in Kosovo

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, in the framework of Balkan Monitoring Public Finance Project, has announced a public call for the submission of project proposals within the European Commission’s Civil Society Facility and Media Programme 2014-2015: Support to Regional Thematic Networks of Civil Society Organisations, ‘CSOs as Equal Partners in Monitoring Public Finances’.

The proposed projects should fulfill one or more of several priorities:

  1. Empower the CSOs to strengthen their knowledge in the area of public finance, monitor public finance, provide policy proposals and participate in policy processes, raise public awareness, facilitate discussion with political actors and other relevant stakeholders, communicate and advocate for better accountability and transparency in the area of public finance.
  2. Support media to communicate and inform the public on the issues or policy processes related to public finance.
  3. Encourage experts to conduct research and baseline studies on specific topics related to public finance.
  4. Create cooperation platforms or support networking among stakeholders to create transparent and accountable policy and decision-making processes in the area of public finances.

The call for proposals focuses on four general topics of public finances including public debt, public-private partnerships, tax justice and public infrastructure, transparency, rule of law, good governance, anti-corruption, economic growth, including citizens and CSOs in the budgeting process, public finance education and the monitoring and oversight of public institutions and tax reforms.

Funds will be allocated to those civil society organisations whose projects contribute to resolving one or more of the above priorities and meet quality criteria and other conditions.

Relevant information as well as an electronic version of the application package can be obtained from: public-call-for-csosngos-inthe-field-of-public-finances.

Applicants can submit their applications in Albanian, Serbian and English.

Completed applications with the necessary documentation must be send via email to [email protected]

The deadline for submitting applications is November 1 at noon.

Read more here.

Kosovo Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Grants Bursaries

Ten applicants have been granted a fellowship bursary within the framework of the Kosovo Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Programme.

The Fellowship is a six-month opportunity for journalists to advance their skills. The programme is supported by the European Union Office in Kosovo and implemented by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Association of Kosovo Journalists.

The recipients of the bursaries will conduct research on issues such as public spending, local governance, public procurement, environment, energy, healthcare, culture, education, media financing, human rights and inter-ethnic cooperation and write an in-depth story based on their findings.

The Kosovo Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Programme is based on the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, which has been running since 2007.

Click here to read more.

BIRN Holds Discussion with Kosovo Ombudsperson

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Centre for Advocacy Democracy and Culture, ACDC organised a discussion in Prizren, Kosovo on September 21 about the role of the Ombudsperson in dealing with issues of public interest.

The discussion’s focus was on the possibility of cooperation between the Ombudsman, civil society and the media in addressing issues of public interest, especially human rights.

The discussion was held with the support of the Dutch Embassy as part of the project ‘OmbudsWatch’, which aims to promote the role of the Ombudsperson.

Panellists and participants had the opportunity to put questions to Ombudsman Hilmi Jashari and the Dutch Ambassador, Gerrie Willems.

Willems said that this project aims to increase people’s awareness about the role of the Ombudsperson as well as increasing the interest of civil society and the media in monitoring the work of the Ombudsperson.

She added that through the implementation of the project, she hopes to improve the situation as regards human rights in Kosovo.

Hilmi Jashari said that according to a report issued by the Ombudsperson, 117,000 court cases have not yet been brought to a conclusion.

Jashari also cited delays in court proceedings for which mean that some poeple have wait eight or nine years for a court ruling.

He further criticised the way in which laws are drafted in Kosovo, citing the short period of time in which they are drafted by experts who he said did not have enough experience in the area.

Study on Rising Public Debt in Western Balkans Launched

A regional study of public debt in the Western Balkans was launched at an event in Podgorica, Montenegro on September 19.

The study is part of the Balkan Monitoring Public Finance project, a joint effort involving BIRN and nine other civil society organisations from EU accession countries in the Western Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) and EU member states (Slovenia and Bulgaria).

It is designed to improve the accountability and transparency of public finances in the targeted countries and strengthen civil society’s role and voice in monitoring countries’ performance in this area.

The study shows that rising public debt has raised concerns about the long-term sustainability of public finances, particularly given that debt tolerance level is lower for lower-income economies.

The event in Podgorica included a discussion with representatives of the World Bank, the Montenegrin parliament, Western Balkan civil society organisations and prominent media from the region about how to jointly tackle the unsustainable levels of public debt in Western Balkans.

“Debt management activities should be audited annually by external auditors and audits of government financial statements should be conducted regularly and publicly disclosed,” argued of the authors of the study, Andreja Zivkovic from Wings of Hope in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The State Audit Office should have a legal obligation to inform and educate citizens in finance issues, about the fiscal performance of governments and state institutions and about the work of the Audit Office itself,” Zivkovic added.

Ajda Pistotnik from EnaBanda in Slovenia, another one of the authors of the study, argued that the public should be involved in discussions on the issue.

“Greater participation by citizens in affairs that directly concern them is in itself a public benefit and is a stimulus to greater transparency and accountability in public finance,” Pistotnik said.

BIRN Kosovo Announces Human Rights Reporting Award Competition

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo, in cooperation with The Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture, ACDC, is calling for entries for a competition to win awards for the three best journalistic pieces on TV, in print or online media in Kosovo that highlight abuses of the rights of minority communities, women’s rights and LGBT rights.

*The stories submitted for the competition must have been published, aired or broadcast in Kosovo media during the period from November 1, 2017 to August 30, 2018.

Through this initiative, BIRN and ACDC, as part of the project ‘OmbudsWatch – Promoting the Ombudsperson’s Role in Kosovo’, supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kosovo, believes that journalists rewarded for their successful coverage of the topics will improve further engagement with these issues in the future. The initiative is intended to boost the coverage of human rights issues and the work of the Ombudsperson, and help to set new standards for media reporting.

Stories will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Style of writing and writing skills;
  • The value of the story and the impact it has on the audience/readership;
  • Addressing the rights of minority communities, women’s rights and LGBT rights in a unique manner;
  • Degree of logistical challenges;
  • Inclusiveness of the story;
  • Available sources used in information collection;
  • In-depth reflection of the current circumstances in Kosovo with regard to the specific marginalised communities;
  • The impact the report has had after publication.

In addition to the basic criteria, the following will be taken into account for TV submissions:

  • The quality of picture and sound;
  • The quality of video and sound;
  • Technical realissation of the story.

All applications for the Human Rights Award must be received by September 23, 2018 by 00:00, via the following e-mail address: [email protected]

*Incomplete applications or applications received after the deadline will not be taken into consideration.

Any questions related to the Human Rights Award can be directed to the email address above.

Applications from qualified female and male candidates from all religious, ethnic and social backgrounds are strongly encouraged. Gender balance will be taken into account during the selection process.

The journalistic prize will be accompanied by a monetary stimulation (1st prize 800 euros, 2nd prize 600 euros and 3rd prize 400 euros) for each of the three winning stories.

The prizes will be awarded in the first week of October 2018.

The applications received will be evaluated by a professional jury composed of three members – one journalist/editor, one human rights activist and one representative of the Ombudsperson.

BIRN Kosova shpall garën për raportim në çështje të të drejtave të njeriut

Rrjeti Ballkanik i Gazetarisë Hulumtuese, BIRN Kosovë, në bashkëpunim me Qendrën e Avokimit për Kulturën Demokratike, ACDC, ka kënaqësinë të shpallë konkursin për tri storiet më të mira gazetareske të botuara në televizion, shtyp dhe online, që theksojnë abuzimet me të drejtat e komuniteteve pakicë, të drejtat e grave dhe të drejtat e LGBT.

* Storiet e paraqitura duhet të jenë të publikuar ose të transmetuar në mediat kosovare gjatë periudhës prej 1 nëntor 2017 deri më 30 gusht 2018.

Përmes kësaj iniciative, BIRN dhe ACDC, nën projektin “Ombudspersoni – Promovimi i rolit të Ombudspersonit në Kosovë”, mbështetur nga Ambasada e Holandës në Kosovë, beson se gazetarët që shpërblehen për mbulimin e suksesshëm të temave me interes do të përmirësojnë mobilizimin dhe angazhimin e mëtejshëm me këto çështje në të ardhmen. Kjo nismë shërben si mjet për të shtuar rëndësinë e mbulimit të çështjeve të të drejtave të njeriut dhe rolin e Ombudspersonit duke vendosur një standard të ri për raportimin në media.

Storiet do të vlerësohen në bazë të kritereve të mëposhtme:

  • Stili i aftësive të shkrimit;
  • Vlera e stories dhe ndikimi që ka te audienca;
  • Adresimi i të drejtave të komuniteteve pakicë, të drejtat e grave dhe të drejtat e LGBT në mënyrë unike;
  • Shkalla e sfidave logjistike;
  • Gjithëpërfshirja e tregimit;

Burimet e disponueshme që përdoren në grumbullimin e informacionit;

  • Pasqyrim i thellë i rrethanave aktuale në Kosovë në lidhje me komunitetet e margjinalizuara;
  • Ndikimi që ka pasur pas botimit.

Përveç kritereve themelore, për aplikimet televizive do të merren parasysh:

  • Cilësia e figurës dhe zërit;
  • Cilësia e videos dhe zërit;
  • Realizimi teknik i stories.

Të gjitha aplikacionet për Çmimin e të Drejtave të Njeriut, në kuadër të projektit “Projekti i Ombudspersonit për Promovimin e Ombudspersonit në Kosovë”, do të pranohen deri më 23 Shtator 2018, deri në 00:00, në e-mail adresën: [email protected]

* Aplikimet e jo të plota ose aplikimet e pranuara pas afatit kohor nuk do të merren në konsideratë.

Çdo pyetje që ka të bëjë me Çmimin për të Drejtat e Njeriut mund të drejtohet në e-mail adresën e përmendur më lart.

Aplikacionet nga kandidatët e kualifikuar nga të gjitha përkatësitë fetare, etnike dhe sociale inkurajohen fuqishëm. Balanca gjinore do të merret parasysh gjatë procesit të përzgjedhjes.

Çmimi gazetaresk do të shoqërohet me stimulim monetar (Çmimi i parë 800 euro; Çmimi i dytë 600 euro dhe Çmimi i tretë 400 euro) për secilën nga tri storiet fituese.

Çmimet do të jepen në javën e parë të tetorit 2018.

Aplikacionet e pranuara do të vlerësohen nga një juri profesionale e përbërë nga 3 anëtarë, nga të cilët do të ketë një gazetar/redaktor, një aktivist për të drejtat e njeriut si dhe një përfaqësues nga Ombudspersoni.

BIRN Kosovo otvorio je nagradni konkurs za izveštavanje o ljudskim pravima

Balkanska istraživačka mreža, BIRN Kosovo, u saradnji sa Centrom za zastupanje demokratske kulture, ACDC, objavljuje Konkurs za tri najbolja novinarska rada objavljena na  televiziji, u štampanim i online medijima, kojima se naglašavaju zloupotrebe prava manjinskih zajednica, prava žena i prava LGBT osoba.

* Prijavljeni radovi treba da su objavljeni ili emitovani u kosovskim medijima u periodu od 1. novembra 2017. do 30. avgusta 2018.

Ovom inicijativom BIRN i ACDC, u okviru projekta “OmbudsNadzor – Promovisanje uloge Zaštitnika građana na Kosovu”, uz podršku Ambasade Holandije na Kosovu, žele da doprinesu daljem novinarskom angažovanju  na ovim pitanjima. Ova inicijativa ima za cilj da unapredi izveštavanje o pitanjima ljudskih prava i rad Zaštitnika građana.

Priče će se ocenjivati na osnovu sledećih kriterijuma:

  • Stil pisanja i veštine pisanja;
  • Vrednost priče i njen uticaj na publiku;
  • Obrada prava manjinskih zajednica, prava žena i prava LGBT na jedinstven način;
  • Stepen logističkih izazova;
  • Inkluzivnost priče;
  • Raspoloživi izvori koji su korišćeni pri prikupljanju informacija;
  • Detaljno odražavanje trenutnih okolnosti na Kosovu u odnosu na date marginalizovane zajednice;
  • Uticaj koji je zabeležen na kraju nakon objavljivanja.

Pored osnovnih kriterijuma, za podnete TV priloge će se uzimati u obzir i:

  • Kvalitet slike i zvuka;
  • Kvalitet videa i zvuka;
  • Tehnička realizacija priče.

Sve prijave za Nagradu za ljudska prava moraju biti primljene do 23. septembra 2018. do ponoći na e-mail adresi: [email protected]

Nepotpune prijave ili prijave primljene nakon roka neće biti uzete u obzir.

Sva pitanja o Nagradi mogu se uputiti na gore navedenu e-mail adresu.

Snažno se ohrabruju prijave kvalifikovanih kandidata žena i muškaraca iz svih verskih, etničkih i socijalnih sredina. Rodni balans će biti uzet u obzir tokom izbornog procesa.

Novinarska nagrada će imati i novčani deo (1. nagrada 800 evra, 2. nagrada 600 evra i 3. nagrada 400 evra) za svaku od tri pobedničke priče.

Nagrade će biti uručene prve nedelje oktobra 2018.

Primljene prijave će ocenjivati stručni žiri sastavljen od tri člana: novinar/ka ili urednik/ca, aktivista ili aktivistkinja za ljudska prava, kao i jedan predstavnik ili predstavnica kancelarije Zaštitnika građana.