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.

BIRN SaM Completes Transition Project

BIRN SaM has successfully completed the implementation of the Democratic Transition and Reintegration in Serbia Project, fulfilling all the obligations and goals defined in the project proposal.

This project was designed to draw the public’s attention to reform areas in which local NGOs are engaged and help to build support and momentum for positive changes in legislation and policy.

BIRN SaM’s network has been helping existing NGO initiatives in Serbia through the production of articles and in-depth analyses regarding the important issues they are dealing with and highlighting their role in advocacy.

The issues and initiatives covered have included trade between Kosovo and Serbia; civilian control of the armed forces; domestic violence; religious freedom; gender equality; minority rights; and Roma rights and youth employment.

Three out of eight articles were in-depth analysis (trade between Kosovo and Serbia , civilian control of the armed forces, domestic violence); the remainder features and news analysis.

The project was sponsored by the Freedom House, Serbia.

Kosovo: The Minority Perspective

Seven articles were published on June 1, resulting from journalistic training for Kosovo minorities organized by BIRN SaM in northern Mitrovica in April.

Kosovo Special: The Minorty Perspective can be read in Balkan Insight no. 37, < http://www.birn.eu.com/bihome.php >.

All the articles were written by trainees who attended an earlier BIRN training workshop.

The second part of the primary level training for Kosovo minorities is scheduled for September, and will also be followed with a special edition dedicated to the most relevant topics.

These reports, training and debate events are all part of BIRN SaM’s Minority Training and Reporting project, which is supported by the British Embassy in Belgrade .

For more information on this project, contact BIRN SaM Director Dragana Nikolic-Solomon.

BIRN Conducted a Workshop in Budva

BIRN SaM conducted a four-day workshop for ten journalists from around Montenegro.

Training focused on the consequences of the independence referendum in Montenegro and related topics.

discussed with trainers and editors the most important issues facing
the new state; how to tackle stories and structure them.

were also talks on news analysis/feature production and diversity
reporting, as part of the BIRN primary level training module.

trainees worked with Dragana Nikolic Solomon, BIRN SaM director,
Gordana Igric, BIRN editor in chief and Ana Petruseva, BIRN Macedonia

Eight articles were commissioned for a special package on issues arising from the Montenegrin referendum.

that have successfully completed primary level training have become
members of BIRN correspondents network, and the BIRN core team in

Sponsored by the British
Embassy in Belgrade, the Montenegro training programme is part of a
three-year-long minority journalism training and reporting project. For
more info please contact Dragana Nikolic Solomon, BIRN SaM.

BIRN Documentary Shown to NATO Political Advisors

In early May, excerpts from BIRN’s latest documentary “Does Anyone Have a Plan?” were shown at a NATO conference in Skopje, which gathered political advisors from the Balkans to discuss regional issues.

One of the participants main preoccupations is border demarcation and they saw the part of the film which illustrates concerns over this matter.

Participants found the film very useful.

In Macedonia the film was also shown on TV Menada in Tetovo in early April and TV Nova in Kumanovo later that month. BIRN has since received praise for the film from residents of Tetovo and Kumanovo.

Who leads the LDK?

The death of Kosovo’s president Ibrahim Rugova created several vacuums in Kosovo’s political scene – not least in the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), the party that he led for 16 years.

BIRN Kosovo director Jeta Xharra recently hosted a debate on the LDK, examining its internal turmoil and speculating on who will emerge to lead the party – and when they will be elected to office.

The panel included four LDK members – its vice-president Eqrem Kryeziu; Besa Gaxherri from the Women’s Forum of LDK, Lulzim Zeneli from the Youth Forum and Ali Lajci, head of Peja/Pec municipality, representing the municipal divisions of the party.

The debate was preceded and advertised by two articles written in the Express daily newspaper as the first time that the LDK leaders would have the opportunity to raise their differences in a public forum since the death of Rugova.

Trying to define who is actually leading the LDK, Eqrem Kryeziu said that “based on the statute of the party, at the time when there is no president, the party is leaded by three vice-presidents and the secretary general”.

Kryeziu believes that internal party elections should be postponed. “We need more time to fill the gap after Rugova’s death,” he said, adding that the leadership also needed time to explain its reasons for removing high-profile party members Nexhat Daci and Adem Salihaj in the wake of Rugova’s death.

Kryeziu also said that the “LDK is not looking for an iconic leader, but for a leading mechanism” – an idea that was supported by all panelists in this debate.

Commenting on the creation of two factions within the LDK – one led by Kryeziu, Fatmir Sejdiu, Kole Berisha and Sabri Hamiti, and the other led by the discharged Daci and Salihaj – Kryeziu said that “these groups were made due to major institutional changes that happened recently, they are not factions of the same party but rather more like two different alternatives”.

Sitting next to Kryeziu, Besa Gaxherri described him as “hurried” when explaining the recent institutional changes, which she believed were “wrong” and “not according to the party protocols”.

Gaxheri said that she would not agree with the postponement of the party elections, stressing that the field operators of the LDK like herself expect elections to be held in already set time of early June and not be delayed further. She also expressed dissatisfaction with Kryeziu’s interim leadership.

“I have no idea [where the party stands on] important issues, such decentralisation and Mitrovica for example. Do we have a policy on that?” she asked Kryeziu.

Although the panelists tried to give an impression of unification, they seemed to split into two groups during the debate – those who want party elections to happen now and those who want to delay them after the deadline of June 2006.

Lulezim Zeneli said that if elections are postponed, the structures of LDK will be illegitimate. “With the election process we will [impose] legitimacy on the LDK leadership,” he said.

Commenting on the recently created divisions within the party, Ali Lajci described them as just alternative opinions. “There are no factions within LDK since there is no more than one programme and one platform,” he said.

In the other hand Lajci pointed out that LDK has its executive bodies such as general council and that “all these issues should be discussed and decided there”. But he stressed that the party hierarchy should decide soon if elections are to be held in June, or later in the year.