SEE Digital Rights Network Members from Kosovo, Croatia, and Greece Meet Online

BIRN gathered SEE Digital Rights Network members from Kosovo, Greece, and Croatia to share their most recent digital rights-related projects and initiatives and talk about the future work of the SEE Digital Rights Network.

 

The meeting was held online on September 4, 2023, and was attended by representatives of seven organisations who shared recent experiences working in the digital rights field and showcased their plans. Representatives opened the dialogue to underline recent shared successes through the work with other SEE Digital Rights Network members, testifying about the Network’s collaborative and supportive spirit.

SCiDEV, actively working in Albania and the region, is currently working on its youth-oriented digital rights ERASMUS+ funded project by developing capacity-building programs tailored for the young from rural areas and disadvantaged groups. The project is implemented by SCiDEV and four other regional and EU-based organisations.

The organisation has its sights set on the future, hinting at upcoming collaborations with regional counterparts. While they praised the Network’s strides, they also called for enhanced communication via modern tools like Slack and a strengthened group identity.

The IPKO Foundation from Kosovo said it is excited about shaping the future of tech through its yearly event, DOKU.TECH, and empowering women and girls in the cyber world with their initiative, “Reshaping the Future”. Their ideas highlight the importance of regional meetings for generating new project ideas.

Levizja FOL, with its support for amplifying citizens’ representation in public discourse, shared insights from their recent dive into Kosovo’s cybersecurity and cybercrime landscape. They said that they focus not just on research but also advocate for tangible change, especially regarding anti-corruption measures and legal frameworks.

While YIHR Kosovo takes a broader view in its critical work in the human rights field, its partnership with the SHARE Foundation, which, together with BIRN, co-founded the SEE Digital Rights Network, has concentrated on strengthening the capabilities of activists in the digital age.

Politiscope from Croatia focused on privacy concerns, with an emphasis on protecting the nation’s youth. Its projects are charting new territories, especially in AI’s application in Croatia and Serbia. As newcomers to the Network, they’re open to mentorship and eager to share successful methodologies with fellow Network members.

Greece’s HOMO Digitalis spoke about their mission to shield digital rights. Through cooperation with EDRi and their diverse campaigns, HOMO Digitalis’ work encompasses advocacy, litigation and education in protecting digital human rights. In a spirit of unity, they proposed a shared map of all Network activities and the pooling of member publications.

Lastly, the Kosovar Centre for Security Studies, KCSS, shed light on its Emerging Threats Program, designed to demystify and tackle modern security enigmas. Their recent focus has been on the cybersecurity needs of Kosovo NGOs and fostering a cyber-aware environment for marginalized communities.

As the meeting concluded, the members committed to navigating the digital challenges together. The meeting ended with an announcement of the next gathering in December 2023, which will mark the first regional meeting of the SEE Digital Rights Network.

BIRN Albania Publishes Report on Women’s Representation in the Digital Media

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania has published a new report on women’s representation in online and social media during the 2023 local elections in Albania.

The report uses both qualitative and quantitative data to analyse the coverage of women candidates in the 2023 local elections, in online media outlets and social media networks, including Facebook and Instagram.

It provides insight on ad spending on social media by women candidates and their portrayal in the media.

The report also provides a qualitative analysis of the coverage of women political candidates in online and social media during the campaign and the political discourse on women as voters.

The report aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of online media and social media coverage of the political discourse and portrayal of women, both as political candidates and as voters, during the 2023 local elections in Albania.

The report was co-authored by BIRN Albania staff and by Professor Izela Tahsini, lecturer at the Department of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Tirana.

The report made use of two social media listening tools for the data analysis, Sentione and Crowdtangle.

To download the Albanian copy of the report click here

To download the English version of the report click here

BIRN Albania Publishes Policy Brief on Data Processing for Journalists

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania has published a new policy brief on the regulatory framework on privacy and data processing for journalists.

 

The brief, written by the legal expert Emirjon Marku, covers the rules and regulations on the processing of personal data for journalistic purpose and on cases of exemptions, as well as providing a primer on the EU’s General Data Protection Directive, which Albania is in the process of transposing.

The policy brief introduces journalists and editors to the legal framework and aims to arm them with the knowledge to navigate those cases when the right to privacy outweighs freedom of expression or vice-versa.

This document aims to remind journalists, editors and media directors of the boundaries of co-existence of these constitutional freedoms and rights in Albania – to help them to understand how to achieve the necessary balance between these constitutional rights whilst exercising their profession.

The brief aims to offer guidance on approaching principles of data protection legislation, including ethical considerations.

For an Albanian copy of the policy brief click here

For an English copy of the policy brief click here

BIRN Albania Holds Roundtable on Human Rights in the Digital Sphere

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania on June 27 held a virtual roundtable with 30 journalists and representatives of local civil society organisations to discuss human rights in the digital sphere in Albania.

The aim was to introduce journalists, activists and representatives of local civil society organisations to a set of initiatives launched by BIRN Albania in the last month related to human rights in the digital sphere in the country, as well as discuss future steps needed in such regards.

During the event, BIRN presented its two latest awareness campaigns launched in June 2023. The campaigns aim to raise awareness on the spread of hate speech against women and members of LGBTQIA+ community in the digital sphere. The video messages filmed and produced by BIRN Albania have been distributed through its social media channels on Facebook and Instagram.

The first campaign was focused on gender bias in the digital sphere. The campaign titled “Ajonukhesht” (“She won’t be silenced”) includes video messages from activists and civil society leaders working on issue related to gender equality, the fight against gender-0based violence and women’s participation in politics and the public sphere.

They included Mirela Arqimandriti, head of the Gender Alliance for Development, Ines Leskaj, executive director of the Albanian Women’s Empowerment Network, Edlira Cepani, national coordinator of the network “Equality in Decision-making,” Armela Prevazi, from the National Democratic Institute in Albania, and Estela Bulku, program coordinator at UN Women.

The second campaign, titled “#Hapezemrën” (“Open you heart”), includes video messages from activists and civil society leaders fighting discrimination toward the LGBTQIA+ community in Albania. They included Alba Ahmetaj, from Pro LGBT, Arber Kodra, from OMSA, Edlira Mara, from Historia Ime, Xheni Karaj, from Alenca LGBT, as well as messages from participants in the last Pride March organised in Tirana in May 2023.

During the roundtable, BIRN Albania also launched two new publications related to digital rights and internet freedom: a new policy brief on the regulatory framework on privacy and data processing for journalists, and a research report on women’s representation in online and social media during the 2023 local elections in Albania.

 

 

NGOs Fear EU Measures Against Kosovo Could Hit Civil Society Funds

Civil society organisations are concerned that the EU’s decision to suspend some funding for Kosovo until it complies with Brussels’ prescriptions for defusing tensions in the Serb-majority north could affect NGOs that depend on international grants.

Civil society organisations in Kosovo have expressed concern that their future sustainability might be affected by Brussels’ decision to temporarily suspend funds provided under the European Commission’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, IPA until Pristina complies with the EU’s prescriptions for restoring stability in the country’s Serb-majority north.

Taulant Hoxha, executive director of the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation, KCSF NGO, which supports civil society development, told BIRN that such organisations’ funding could be affected “if these [EU] measures continue for months, and especially beyond 2023”.

Hoxha explained that “the natural cycle of IPA funds management is such that at least one to two years pass from programming to the practical implementation of funds”.

He said that the suspension of IPA 2024 funds, which the EU is threatening, would not affect already-funded civil society projects for this year and next year, but could affect NGOs’ work in 2025.

Kosovo has many civil society organisations – parliament’s website lists 84 – and they are highly dependent on EU, US and Swiss funds.

Zana Hoxha, the executive director of Artpolis, a human rights and arts NGO, told BIRN that the suspension of IPA funds by the EU might cause her organisation to reduce jobs or cut salaries by 30 to 40 per cent.

“We have been supported by IPA funds since 2008, for the promotion of women’s rights, youth engagement and art and culture, which is our mission,” she said.

She explained that financial resources for 2023 have been secured but the NGO planned to apply for IPA 2024 and if the funds were not available, it would make the organisation’s future uncertain.

She added that she believes that the suspension of IPA funds will cause “a general weakening of civil society organisations and civic engagement… The consequences will be difficult to repair.”

However, the director of BIRN Kosovo, Jeta Xharra, said she had received assurances on Tuesday that NGOs will not suffer as a result of the EU measures.

“I was in an online meeting today that the EU organised from Brussels on consultations on the IPA 2024 Multi-Country Programming Consultation with Civil Society in the Western Balkans and thankfully I was not the only one raising the concern that precisely because of the current tensions, there need to be more projects that encourage cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo, not less. This proposal came from a civil society activist in Serbia,” Xharra said.

“I also aired my thoughts on the matter, saying that punishing independent media and civil society for the actions of any government seems completely counterproductive as, in Kosovo especially media and civil society provide a regular critical counterpart to the government, scrutinising its actions, so weakening that resilience and criticism that the government faces every day from civil society and media would in fact have an opposite effect, it would make the life of the government much easier,” she added.

Xharra said that she asked if current and future funding for the civil society in Kosovo would be affected by EU measures against the Kosovo government, and was assured by the EU representatives that “no current or future multi-country projects for media and civil society would exclude Kosovo organisations. This is the situation as it stands.”

The EU is imposing measures to encourage Pristina to accept its prescriptions for defusing the tensions that flared up into violence recently in Serb-majority northern Kosovo.

Brussels is asking Pristina to immediately suspend police operations near municipal buildings in the north which have been the focus of unrest after police helped ethnic Albanian mayors elected in polls boycotted by Serbs to take office.

The EU wants the mayors to perform their duties in premises other than the municipal buildings, and for new elections to be held with the full participation of the Serbs.

“We cannot afford instability, tensions and violence. We have condemned the violence and continue calls for immediate de-escalation by both parties [Kosovo and Serbia],” an EU spokesperson told BIRN.

“Kosovo has regrettably not yet taken necessary steps,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said that the Kosovo authorities were informed on June 28 that measures including the suspension of the IPA funds were being imposed until the EU’s requests are fulfilled.

“These measures are temporary and fully reversible depending on the developments on the ground and decisions to de-escalate taken by the Prime Minister [Albin] Kurti,” the spokesperson added.

The EU spokesperson also said that in another measure imposed, proposals for funding submitted by Kosovo under the Western Balkans Investment Framework were not submitted for consideration by the WBIF board at the end of June.

From 2009 to 2021, the WBIF supported 30 infrastructure projects in Kosovo with a total cost of 1.8 billion euros.

Prime Minister Kurti has described the EU measures as “unjust”.

Kurti said that “we hope that these temporary measures will be very short” so that EU financial support can continue “and maybe even increase”.

Call for EU Investigative Journalism Award 2023 is now closed

Journalists from the Western Balkans and Türkiye submitted more than 260 applications to the Call for EU Investigative Journalism Award 2023.

A total of 267 applications have been submitted for the EU Investigative Journalism Award 2023, encompassing both national and regional categories. These applications came from seven different countries. This prestigious award honours exceptional investigative stories published in the preceding calendar year.

From the pool of received applications, the evaluation jury will choose the top three stories from each of the seven countries, resulting in 21 selected stories. This selection process ensures that the most outstanding works from each country are recognized and acknowledged.

This year, the EU Award has introduced an exciting addition in the form of a regional award. This category seeks to recognise the finest stories that transcend national boundaries and address issues of significance to the entire region. By creating this new category, the award aims to inspire journalists to broaden their perspective and tackle matters that have a broader impact.

A separate evaluation jury will be established to evaluate the regional award submissions. This dedicated panel will review all entries and select the three stories that have the most substantial regional impact. This initiative will foster a sense of collaboration among journalists and encourage them to delve into regional matters that affect a wider audience.

The annual award fund for each of the countries is 10,000 euros and the prize fund for regional awards is also 10,000 euros. The three best stories of the year are awarded, and the amount for national and regional prizes is 5,000 euros (first place), 3,000 (second), and 2,000 (third).

In the past four years, 84 investigative stories from the Western Balkans and Türkiye produced by 124 journalists were awarded. These stories contributed to resolving cases of power misuse, corruption, organised crime, pollution of the ecosystem, and other wrongdoings.

The organiser of the award is Thomson Media, an organisation with decades of experience in media development and the promotion of media freedom on a global level.

The EU Award for Investigative Journalism 2023 is part of the project “Strengthening Quality Journalism in Western Balkans and Türkiye II”. This aims to recognise and promote outstanding achievements in investigative journalism as well as improve the visibility of quality journalism in the Western Balkans and Türkiye.

The project is funded by the European Union, and it is implemented by a consortium composed of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – BIRN Hub, Central European University (CEU) – Hungary, the Association of Journalists (AJ) – Türkiye, Thomson Media (TM) – Germany, University Goce Delcev Stip (UGD) – North Macedonia, The Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) – North Macedonia, Media Association of South-East Europe (MASE) – Montenegro, and Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Kosovo (BIRN Kosovo).

For more details check here.

CALL EXTENSION: Balkan and Visegrad newsrooms apply for Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants

BIRN is extending its call to July 10 for Balkan and Visegrad newsrooms to apply for Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants to receive funding, training, mentoring and access to an innovative digital tool to engage with audiences.

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) is pleased to announce the extension of the call for applications for the Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants. This program is designed to support journalists from Visegrad and Balkan newsrooms who aspire to create next-level investigative reports by actively engaging with their audiences through an innovative digital tool.

The Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants provide funding, training, and mentoring opportunities for ten (10) media outlets across the following European countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Serbia, and Slovakia.

These grants are part of the Media Innovation Europe project, led by the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI) in collaboration with Thomson Media (TM) in Berlin, the Media Development Foundation (MDF) in Kyiv, and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) in Sarajevo.

Through this program, BIRN aims to empower media outlets to produce impactful and audience-engaged stories that tackle pressing issues within their communities. Successful applicants will receive the necessary resources to create individual or cross-border audience-engaged stories.

Grant Opportunities:

BIRN will award €4,000 to two (2) successful applicants who are interested in producing individual audience-engaged investigative stories.

BIRN will grant €5,000 to eight (8) successful applicants who are interested in producing a cross-border audience-engaged story. In cases where a media outlet already has a media partner for a cross-border story, they may apply together and be eligible for a grant of €10,000 to cover expenses for both parties.

BIRN encourages participants to collaborate and share knowledge to create compelling stories that are relevant and impactful for their audiences. The Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants foster a collaborative environment in which media outlets can come together to share their proficiency and expertise. By working together, media outlets not only enhance their reporting capabilities but also increase their reach and impact.

Who will be supported?

Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants support media outlets that want to engage their audiences in reporting by providing them with training and mentorship in engagement journalism and usage of the Audience-Engaged Tool developed by BIRN.

The Audience-Engaged Tool is an innovative platform that harnesses the power of crowdsourcing to uncover crucial information and untold stories. The online tool enables the direct engagement of many citizens interested in sharing information and evidence related to issues they are facing.

In a four-day online training course, the participating media outlets will learn: how to use the tool to produce engaging and investigative reports; how to select engaging topics; how to develop a callout; how to analyse crowdsourced data; how to incorporate data into stories; and how to shape their story proposal according to audience-engaged journalism.

All participants will gain access to the tool and have a mentor assigned to lead them through the project.

How to apply?

Send us a story proposal in application form before July 10, 2023, following this link.

Before submitting an application, don’t forget to read important information in the call for applications.

More questions?

Read the FAQ.

Write to the project coordinator at [email protected].

Follow BIRN on Facebook and Twitter.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be held responsible for them.

BIRN Hosts Internet Freedom Meet in Belgrade, Serbia

BIRN hosted Internet Freedom Meet, a four-day conference, in Belgrade, Serbia, from June 26 to 29. The gathering brought together 18 speakers and more than 30 participants – journalists, researchers, media freedom and human rights activists, fact-checkers, and tech enthusiasts working in digital rights.

The four-day event started with a keynote address by Caroline Sinders, a machine-learning-design researcher and artist. Sinders, founder of Convocation Design + Research, has developed expertise at the nexus of machine learning, user research, and public good design through collaborations with such esteemed entities as Amnesty International, IBM Watson and the Wikimedia Foundation.

The first day also featured an engaging roundtable discussion, “Enhancing Internet Freedom Through Digital Rights Activism,” moderated by Sinders. Joining the panel was Rima Sghaier, a respected name in digital rights advocacy, Amar Karađuz from the citizens association “Why Not,” and Bojan Perkov, a digital policy coordinator at the SHARE Foundation. They exchanged thoughts and strategies on bolstering internet freedom through digital rights advocacy. To close the day, Sghaier led a hands-on workshop on “Engaging in Digital Rights Activism.”

The second day shed light on the pressing concern of online-to-offline violence. Carlos Guerra, Technical Advisor on Digital Security at Greater Internet Freedom Project, led the day by giving an introductory address and later moderating a discussion featuring Katarina Golubović, from the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), and Hristina Piskulidis, a Communications Officer at ASTRA.

Both women, experienced in human rights advocacy and eradicating human trafficking, respectively, shared perspectives in the roundtable discussion titled “Preventing Violence: Online Extremism and Offline Consequences.”

Guerra’s afternoon workshop on digital safety in the time of remote work was particularly inspiring to participants who learned how to protect themselves in the work-from-home era.

Later in the day, Anđela Milivojević, an investigative reporter, led a thought-provoking workshop addressing cyberbullying and online harassment in investigative journalism based on her investigative article published by BIRN’s Balkan Insight, which prompted a reaction by Telegram, a 700-million user instant messaging app.

Day three showcased BIRN’s regional research report “Hidden in Plain Sight,” which focuses on the accountability of Balkan telecommunication companies, using the Ranking Digital Rights’ methodology. Dragana Žarković Obradović, BIRN Serbia country director, presented the main findings and led the discussion about the report’s results.

L-R: Dragana Zarkovic Obradovic, Tanja Maksic, Bojan Stojkovski, Ana Toskic-Cvetinovic, Leandro Ucciferri (on screen)

The panel included Leandro Ucciferri, global partnerships manager at Ranking Digital Rights, Tanja Maksić, a researcher and project coordinator from BIRN Serbia, Ana Toskić-Cvetinović, executive director of Partners Serbia, and Bojan Stojkovski, who was one of the researchers for the report.

To close the day, Ivana Jeremić, an editor at Balkan Insight, hosted a workshop that looked closer at BIRN’s recent investigation on so-called “free roaming” in the Balkans.

The final day of the Internet Freedom Meet in Belgrade was dominated by discussions on artificial intelligence, AI. Ljubiša Bojić, a senior research fellow at the University of Belgrade’s Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory and a coordinator of Digital Society Lab, gave a thought-provoking keynote address.

A round table discussion on AI accountability, the EU AI Act, and responsible use of AI followed, moderated by Bojić. The discussion was enriched by insights from Deniz Wagner, an adviser to the world’s only intergovernmental media freedom watchdog – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Predrag Tadić, an assistant professor at the University of Belgrade’s School of Electrical Engineering, and Branka Anđelković, programme director of the Public Policy Research Center.

The last session of BIRN’s Internet Freedom Meet in Belgrade was Wagner’s workshop, which equipped attendees with tools for advocating responsible AI policies.

Speakers and participants agreed that BIRN’s Internet Freedom Meet in Belgrade propelled the dialogue on a variety of critical issues by facilitating the platform for timely and much-needed discussions revolving around internet freedom and digital rights, setting the stage for future discussions and collaborations aimed at safeguarding these integral aspects of our lives in the digital era.

Embark on a Journalistic Journey: BIRN’s Reporting Democracy Launches New Call for Travel and Reporting Programme

BIRN’s Reporting Democracy Travel & Reporting Programme is inviting journalists from the Visegrad region to apply for a grant covering fees and field research expenses. This is a unique opportunity for journalists to report from the Balkans and deepen their understanding of the region.

As part of our unwavering commitment to fostering journalistic cooperation and knowledge exchange between regions, we are thrilled to announce the launch of our Travel & Reporting Grants Program.

This is an exclusive opportunity to embark on a reporting journey, supported by financial assistance, regional expertise and on-the-ground field support in selected countries where BIRN has established offices, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Montenegro.

We invite journalists interested in the Balkans to participate in this exceptional program, aimed at generating compelling journalistic output for media outlets in your countries, with the added possibility of being showcased on BIRN’s esteemed Reporting Democracy platform and in prominent local media across the Balkan region.

We encourage the submission of projects for the production of relevant and substantive content. We support production of a variety of journalistic forms, including analysis, investigations, features and interviews. We also welcome cross-border stories, serialized articles, as well as accompanying multimedia material such as videos, photos, and radio or podcast productions.

Elevate your journalistic endeavors, expand your reach and contribute to a thriving media landscape. Apply now and let your stories resonate across borders, engaging audiences with compelling narratives that leave a lasting impression.

Who can apply?

Journalists from Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia can apply for grants. We welcome applications from a diverse range of applicants, including:

  • Individual journalists, whether operating within newsroom structures or working independently as freelancers
  • Collaborative teams consisting of a dynamic mix of reporters, producers, photographers, and video editors
  • Forward-thinking media organisations eager to pursue international and cross-border stories

In this grant cycle, we have limited opportunities available, with a maximum of 5 grants set to be awarded to the most deserving applicants.

Grant Details

Successful applicants will be awarded a grant of 2,500 euros, providing the necessary resources to undertake in-depth and impactful journalism stories.

Important Dates:

  • Application Deadline: July 31, 2023
  • Grant Completion Deadline: December 31, 2023

Each applicant may submit only one application under this grant scheme.

Application Guidelines

To be considered for this grant, your application should include the following components:

  • Engaging Topics: Clearly articulate the compelling topic(s) you intend to report on, showcasing their relevance and potential to captivate your target audience.
  • Balkan Expedition: Present your well-conceived plans for visiting one or more countries within the Balkan region, supported by a tentative timeline that demonstrates your commitment to thorough research and reporting.
  • Publishing and Dissemination Plan: Outline a robust and strategic plan for effectively sharing your journalistic output with the world. Highlight the platforms and channels you will utilize to maximize the impact of your work.

Eligible Expenses

The grant covers a broad range of essential expenses, including:

  • Professional fees
  • Travel costs
  • Accommodation expenses
  • Subsistence allowances during fieldwork
  • Various production costs, such as translation services, fixers, photographers, etc.

How to apply?

To apply for the Travel & Reporting programme, interested individuals and organizations should utilize the designated application form. Two types of application forms are available: one for individual journalists and teams, and another for media organizations.

Any additional documentation required can be submitted in an online format.

The Application Form must be completed in English.

Please ensure that all provided information is clear and comprehensive, as requests for clarification will only be made when the information provided is insufficient for objective assessment.

The deadline for application submission is 23:59 CET on July 31, 2023. Kindly send your completed application to the following address:

[email protected]

Application for the grant:

For any further inquiries or assistance, do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to support you throughout the application process.

Evaluation and Selection Process:

Step I: Technical Evaluation

On receiving applications, the BIRN staff will conduct a thorough technical evaluation. This evaluation will ensure that applicants have adhered to the application procedures and submitted all the required documents.

Step II: Editorial Board Evaluation

After the technical evaluation, the applications will undergo a comprehensive assessment by our editorial board. The board will evaluate the applicants based on predetermined criteria, including the quality of the proposed idea, feasibility of the plan, and the potential to effectively reach the intended audience.

Step III: Notification of Applicants

Following the evaluation process, all applicants will be promptly notified of the outcomes. Successful applicants will receive notification by August 15, 2023.

We appreciate your patience during the evaluation period and assure you that we will provide timely updates about your application. We value your dedication to journalistic excellence and eagerly anticipate the opportunity to work with the selected individuals and organisations.

BIRN Serbia Holds Training on Illicit Financial Flows

BIRN Serbia organised a day-long training on investigating money laundering. The training, “Illicit Financial Flow and Money Laundering”, on June 22, in Belgrade, was designed to equip fellow journalists with the knowledge and practical tools required to detect and report on this type of crime.

Representatives of various national and local media organisations gathered in Belgrade for four distinct sessions on complementary methodologies presented by BIRN Serbia staff.

Participants underwent a comprehensive training program which examined the entirety of the investigative process.

Practical advice was presented on searching open source intelligence such as public registries and databases to identify potential money laundering cases, recognizing the means through which criminals attempt to clean “dirty” money, processing and visualisation of big data, and current legal practice regarding such criminal cases.

Working breaks between sessions saw presenters take the time to make themselves available for direct consultation. Participants engaged staff for suggestions on their own specific projects, thus enriching the training experience.

Reviews of the program were overwhelmingly positive.

“The attention to detail was immaculate, presenters were clearly experienced and sought to walk us through every step of the investigative process from top to bottom using concrete examples from their own work,” one attendee noted.

The training was held as part of the project “Uncovering Illicit Financial Flows in the Western Balkans”, financed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ.

The overall goal of the project is to raise public awareness about illicit financial flows and provide a basis for decision and opinion makers to boost efforts to combat illicit financial flow.

It aims to increase the pool of journalists in Western Balkan countries equipped with tools and techniques in uncovering illicit financial flows, especially across borders.