Contribute to Increasing Transparency and Accountability of Kosovo Govt and Raise Awareness of Disinformation

BIRN Kosovo

This project aims to improve inter-community relations by facilitating spaces for Albanians, Serbs and those from other ethnic communities to interact, while also providing a channel through which members of various Kosovo communities can express their grievances and their hopes for the future. Furthermore, the project aims to increase public awareness and understanding of fake news and disinformation among citizens and particularly among young people from different communities in Kosovo.

Summary:

The worldwide phenomena of fake news and disinformation have plagued Western Balkan countries, like others, in recent years. Kosovo has been no exception. There has been a surge there of fake news about the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 parliamentary elections as well as about the EU-mediated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.

In the context of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, media outlets in both countries have spread misinformation. In Kosovo, statements from Serbian politicians or other media outlets are often presented to readers as insults against Kosovo, either for political purposes or as a means to boost engagement. In Serbia, media campaigns to delegitimize Kosovo’s statehood and undermine its governance capabilities and relations with the EU are widespread.

The EU-mediated Kosovo-Serbia dialogue on normalization of relations has now been in stalemate for months. The sides are yet to come to a comprehensive and binding agreement – a prospect that does not seem within reach. The process of the dialogue has been accompanied by a lack of transparency from both governments, which has contributed to the limited level of information among citizens about the process and its outcomes. Meanwhile, relations on the ground between Albanians and Serbians in Kosovo, as well as between the two countries, have not improved significantly.

It is concerning that the youth are also burdened by the impact of conflict memories. This is fueled by antagonistic conflict narratives provided in two parallel education systems and limited cross-community interactions at all levels. In the meantime, young boys and girls from both communities face similar challenges, including a lack of education, job opportunities, as well as poor economic conditions.

Given these common challenges, it is important to establish platforms for cross-community interactions. These would allow representatives from all communities, particularly Albanians and Serbians, to exchange views on grievances and build reconciliation through imagining different futures. Kosovo today needs new and creative solutions, to effectively address protracted economic, social and political problems and to shape an inclusive narrative about shared priorities for the future.

In the framework of the proposed project, BIRN Kosovo and Internews Kosova (I/KS) will provide a space for dialogue, elicit joint solutions to joint problems and feature good practices through the publication of articles and broadcasting of stories that bring together citizens from different ethnic communities in Kosovo to discuss the key challenges they face.

The project will feature community experiences in tackling issues ranging from economics, politics and security to current affairs, and will involve a segment in the programmes hosting decision makers to address the issues and solutions raised by community leaders and participants during the debates.

The project further aims to fight fake news and disinformation by promoting adherence to the media Code of Ethics and raising awareness about the mechanisms available to address these phenomena – while also publishing fact-checking articles and news articles on identifying and debunking fake news and disinformation on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, inter-ethnic relations, vulnerable communities and other related topics.

Lastly, the project aims to provide the youth of Kosovo from different ethnic backgrounds with the tools they need to fight fake news and disinformation through training opportunities offered within the framework of the Summer School.

Donor:

Embassy of Switzerland in Kosovo

Main objectives:

 Objective 1: contribute to improving inter-ethnic relations through facilitating communication and providing a platform to voice the challenges faced by all communities, as well as positive examples;

Objective 2: increase public awareness of fake news and disinformation among citizens from different ethnic backgrounds in Kosovo, especially among the young.

 Main Activities:

  1. Raise public discussion through three (3) TV debates by Kosovo MPs on the level of implementation of the Law on the Use of Languages, Law on Protection from Discrimination and Law on Local Self-Government;
  2. Broadcast ten (10) TV programmes on inter-municipal and inter-sectoral cooperation, to promote good practices through solution-driven journalism;
  3. Raise awareness and promote positive examples through seven (7) TV programmes of stories of all community members, in particular Albanian and Serbian communities living in Kosovo;
  4. Promote the importance of self-regulatory and regulatory bodies efforts in fighting disinformation and fake news through two (2) TV debates;
  5. Draft five (5) position papers with the Press Council of Kosovo on the Code of Ethics and organise working meetings with members of the Council to discuss and address findings;
  6. Publish eighty (80) fact-checking articles on KALLXO.com’s Krypometër (Truth-o-meter) section on implementation of the dialogue process;
  7. Publish twenty (20) short news articles on identifying and debunking fake news and disinformation, as well as stories relating to inter-ethnic relations, on the KALLXO.com platform;
  8. Organise a summer school on the topic of anti-disinformation with young people from different ethnic communities in Kosovo;
  9. Provide internship and mentorship opportunities to five (5) university students to report on topics related to inter-ethnic relations and disinformation;
  10. Organise exchange of experiences and best practices with partners organisations from Georgia/other countries.

Target Groups:

  • Members of all ethnic communities in Kosovo, particularly Albanians and Serbs;
  • Youth from different ethnic backgrounds;
  • Citizens of Kosovo.

Main implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Partners:

Internews Kosova

Project associates:

Press Council of Kosova, TV Mreza Network and Gracanica Online

 

Providing a Safe Environment for Journalists During Protests

BIRN Kosovo

The goal of this project is to improve the safety of journalists who report on and from protests and other emergency crises. Furthermore, by creating synergies with the project objectives, the project will emphasize the importance of media freedom and increase the interest and awareness of Kosovo citizens on the safety of journalists and freedom of expression, among others.

Summary:

The goal of this project is to improve the safety of journalists who report on and from protests and other emergency crises. Furthermore, by creating synergies with the project objectives, the project will emphasize the importance of media freedom and increase the interest and awareness of Kosovo citizens on the safety of journalists and freedom of expression, among others.

 Donor:

European Union

Main Objective:

The main objective of the project is to contribute to a democratic society where journalists are not afraid of reporting on and from protests in the country as well as other conflicting and dangerous situations, which portray important issues of public interest and sensitivity.

Specific Objectives:

Specific Objective 1: Equipping journalists with the necessary knowledge on how to report on and from protests and other dangerous situations;

Specific Objective 2: Impact on the authorities of the Republic of Kosovo to provide protection measures for journalists, in order to be protected from the risk of reporting from dangerous situations;

Specific Objective 3: Pressuring the authorities of the legal institutions of the Republic of Kosovo to adequately deal with cases of attacks on journalists.

Main Activities:

Activity 1: Organizing a training for journalists that aims to equip them with the necessary knowledge and practices on reporting from protests.

Activity 2: Compiling and publishing one (1) study analysis on the laws of protection measures during protests.

Activity 3: Compiling and publishing one (1) in-depth research analysis on court cases of attacks on journalists.

Target Groups:

  • Journalists
  • Citizens of Kosovo
  • Legal and Governing Institutions of the Republic of Kosovo

 

Data 4 Fighting Harmful Narratives on the Judiciary

BIRN Kosovo

The aim of the project is to increase transparency and accountability as well as informing and covering the work of the justice system to citizens and stakeholders, therefore BIRN will send requests for information to all Kosovo Courts regarding statistics on sentence for various criminal offenses for several months and will publish articles and analyses based on database founding’s regarding the court and prosecution effectiveness.

Summary:

The aim of the project is to increase transparency and accountability as well as informing and covering the work of the justice system to citizens and stakeholders, therefore BIRN will send requests for information to all Kosovo Courts regarding statistics on sentence for various criminal offenses for several months and will publish articles and analyses based on database founding’s regarding the court and prosecution effectiveness.

 Donor:

Millennium Foundation Kosovo (MFK) and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Main Objective:

As part of the project, BIRN in partnership with Internews Kosova, FindBug, and D4D is developing a smart solution that will help the interested parties and the overall public with the judicial cases, procedures, and regulations by an easy access to cases, the upcoming hearings, and time needed for solving a case based on searches on internet and social media.

BIRN’s intervention with the Judicial Dig Data Challenge consists of synthesizing the available judicial data on gender-based violence, attacks on journalists and the LGBTQI+ persons, corruption, resolution of civil cases, human resource management in justice institutions, effectiveness of the LAA, the Supreme Court and the Special Prosecution, among others, by linking multiple datasets from the Kosovo Judicial Council (KJC), the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council (KPC) and the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).

Our intervention also aims to extend the category of people utilizing the available judicial data. This will be achieved by engaging other actors, such as journalists, in the process of data analysis and in proposing means in addressing data-driven needs.

BIRN will contribute to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of our courts through the activities undertaken as part of this project, hence strengthening citizens’ trust in the judicial system.

Main Activities:

Activity 1. Launching a database for easier access to fact-based information related to the judicial system cases and regulations

Activity 2. Publishing 20 short articles and 20 infographics on KALLXO.com based on the findings as per Activity 1

Activity 3. Designing and publishing 7 infographics regarding the imposed sentences by Kosovo Courts

Activity 4: Draft and publish 6 articles on KALLXO.com platform “Life in Kosovo” newspaper with key findings from the data analysis

Activity 5: Design and publish 6 infographics on “Life in Kosovo” newspaper with key findings from the data analysis

Activity 6: Produce and broadcast 6 television debates on #KALLXOPernime with key stakeholders from each category

Activity 7. 1 Workshop with judicial officials, media, and other CSOs

Activity 8. Organizing one (1) training with Youth Forums of political parties

Activity 9. Organizing three (3) Tuesday Salons with young politicians

Activity 10: Draft 3 legal recommendations based on data-driven needs identified in the analyses and send them to relevant judicial institutions

Activity 11: Organize 2 training sessions with students who wish to use the judicial data in their seminar papers

Activity 12: Select, publish and award the 2 best seminar papers

Activity 13: Award 5 fellowships to journalists to publish in-depth investigations/analysis based on the judicial data.

Main Implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Partners:

Internews Kosova, FindBug, and D4D

 

Media Strengthening the Rule of Law in Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo

This project aims to raise public awareness and enhance the performance of judicial and law enforcement institutions by working for more transparency and accountability in the respective public institutions on cases of corruption, terrorism and violent extremism and, as such, promoting human rights, peace, security and democracy in Kosovo. This will be achieved through monitoring of court hearings, publishing news and reports, broadcasting TV programmes, and contributing with follow-up recommendations. The implementation of these activities is crucial as they present a necessary tool for the judicial institutions in their work to condemn corrupted acts, as well as prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism.

Summary:

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every domain of state development. As a result, due to the extensive effort to overcome this obstacle, the focus of the citizenry and state institutions in Kosovo has shifted away from pressing issues, such as the fight against corruption, terrorism and violent extremism, which is of utmost importance in order to ensure peace and security in the country.

Firstly, due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and other institutions have been left with no choice but to continue their activities through online platforms. This abrupt shift to the virtual world is considered to have detrimental consequences for the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, due to the risk of radicalism being spread via uncontrolled online content. The spread of this content is especially dangerous in an environment where the production of akin materials is not subject to any professional monitoring.

Moreover, transparency of the judicial system is a key mechanism on ensuring the rule of law and raising the credibility of the justice sector. However, the judicial institutions in Kosovo still lack on transparency and open approach towards citizens, including the limited exchange of accurate information between the judicial system on one hand and the citizens of Kosovo on the other through trusted and professional media outlets and other relevant stakeholders.

Transparency of the judicial system is fundamental in order to strengthen the rule of law and increase people’s belief in the judicial system of Kosovo, as the most efficient mechanism to maintain justice and order. Nonetheless, the legal framework in Kosovo lacks transparency and information exchange with the citizenry, who should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under Kosovo’s law.

 Donor:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy

Main Objective:

The overall objective of this project is to raise the public awareness and enhance the performance of judicial and law enforcement institutions by working for more transparency and accountability in the respective public institutions on cases of corruption, terrorism and violent extremism and, as such, promoting human rights, peace, security and democracy in Kosovo.

Specific Objectives:

 Specific Objective 1: Increase public demand for delivering rule of law commitments by Kosovo’s judicial and law enforcement institutions, including the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of cases of corruption, terrorism and violent extremism.

 Specific Objective 2: Increase the responsiveness of judicial and law enforcement institutions implementing their rule of law commitments owed the citizenry of Kosovo, without discrimination of any kind.

Main Activities:

  1. Monitoring and analyzing at least 30 court hearings related to cases of corruption;
  2. Monitoring and analyzing at least 20 court hearings related to cases of terrorism and extremism;
  3. Participating in meetings with the drafting committee to follow-up recommendations;
  4. Publishing 50 short news based on the monitoring of 50 court hearings on corruption, terrorism and extremism;
  5. Publishing an analytical report based on the findings on the monitoring of corruption cases;
  6. Publishing an analytical report based on the findings on the monitoring of terrorism and extremism cases;
  7. Broadcasting two (2) TV programmes based on findings of monitoring related to cases of corruption, terrorism and extremism.

Target Groups:

  • Public officials that work on the judicial and law enforcement bodies;
  • The citizens of Kosovo. 

Main implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Partners:

N/A

 

 

Protecting and Promoting Labour Rights of Vulnerable Groups in the Labour Market

BIRN Kosovo

This project aims to improve the working conditions for vulnerable categories of employees, notably within the private sector, including workplace health and safety for women and men, through the promotion of social dialogue between workers and duty bearers. This will be achieved through activities such as the development of a special section platform to report the violations of labour rights, monitoring and reporting the employment cases where the employees were victims of work injuries, capacity building and training of the duty bearers, capacity building training of the CSOs, journalists and human rights activists, raising public awareness on the Labour Law, the establishment of the consortium of CSOs to advocate for changes in the Labour law, sub-granting awards for CSOs, lawyers, and other registered entities to promote labour rights. These activities will ensure the effective implementation, quality of legal services, and creation of sustainable structures for future work in promoting labour rights.

Summary:

Effective implementation of the Labour Law in Kosovo, which was adopted on November 2, 2010, remains a challenge for private sector employers and public institutions in Kosovo. Workers’ rights are subject to grave violations in both sectors, thereby breaching important international labour standards and agreements. A large proportion of private sector employees are working within the informal economy and are thereby negatively affected by fiscal evasion. Most private sector employees work without contracts and insurance, meaning they endure long working hours, have no guaranteed leave days and are forced to cover all potential work-related injury costs from their own pockets.

International reports further attest to the insufficient implementation of the Labour law in Kosovo. The 2020 Commission Staff Working Document for Kosovo raises a number of concerns related to social policy and employment. The document reports non-compliance with occupational health and safety regulations, despite Kosovo having aligned its regulations with the EU directives on occupational health and safety at work in 2019. Of particular concern was the construction sector. Although the reported number of work-related incidents resulting in was lower in 2020 than in 2019, the numbers remain worrying.

Gender-based discrimination is omnipresent in the Kosovo labour market, and affects most areas covered within the Labour law, including, inter alia, the recruitment process, promotion, salary, and maternity leave. The 2020 Labour Force Survey notes significant gender differences in the Kosovo labour market, with only one in five (20.3%) of working-age women actively participating in the labour market, compared to three-fifths of working-age men. The survey reports higher rates of unemployment for women and, among the working population, a 0.4% salary difference in favour of men. Of notable concern is the inadequate implementation of the law regulating maternity leave.

The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the situation in the labour market. Measures adopted by the Government to curb the spread of the virus had a damaging effect on businesses and employees, with many businesses forced to reduce staff numbers and thus terminate employment contracts, with some completely closing down. The private sector has been hit the hardest. Many employees working for private businesses have reportedly been forced to take unpaid leave, had their salaries halved or had their employment contracts terminated.

The project comprises of direct work with employees, future potential employees, key stakeholders, private companies, citizens, and CSOs who play a central role in advocating and protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable groups of employees.

 Donor:

European Union Office in Kosovo

Main Objective:

The overall objective of this project is to improve the working conditions for vulnerable categories of employees, notably within the private sector, including workplace health and safety for women and men, through the promotion of social dialogue between workers and duty bearers.

Specific Objectives:

Specific Objective 1: to strengthen compliance with labour laws through direct monitoring and reporting of labour rights abuse cases;

Specific Objective 2: to strengthen the capacities of duty bearers and CSOs to work on labour rights;

Specific Objective 3: to raise public awareness on labour law.

Main Activities:

  1. Development of a special section of the KALLXO.com platform to report “Violations of Labour Rights”;
  2. Organising joint inspections with the Tax Administration of Kosovo (TAK) and the Labour Inspectorate;
  3. Monitoring citizens’ reports of labour rights violations in relevant institutions;
  4. Organising a three-day workshop on labour rights in Kosovo;
  5. Training for 20 duty bearers to strengthen their capacities on working with labour rights violation cases;
  6. Training for journalists on reporting on labour rights and violations;
  7. Interviewing 50 businesses, 20 employees (people with disabilities, ethnic minorities, women, youth) and analyse the level of implementation of the law;
  8. Carrying out a social media campaign;
  9. Establishing a Consortium of CSOs to advocate for changes in the Labour law;
  10. Organising information sessions on labour law in Kosovo municipalities;
  11. Launching a sub-granting scheme awarding up to 20 awards, amounting between EUR 5,000 and EUR 10,000 for unions, CSOs, lawyer groups and other registered groups (entities) to promote labour rights, report violations, conduct research, and engage in social dialogue with public authorities.

Target Groups:

  • Workers;
  • Employers;
  • Justice Institutions (the Court, State Prosecutor, Police, Ombudsperson);
  • Labour Inspectorate;
  • Tax Administration of Kosovo;
  • Media in Kosovo;
  • Social-Economic Council;
  • Local CSOs;
  • Non-formal groups;
  • Human rights activists;
  • Potential future employees.

Main Implementer:

 Advocacy Training and Resource Center – ATRC

Partners:

BIRN Kosovo

 

 

Promoting Fact-checking Journalism to Combat Fake News and Misinformation in Kosovo

BIRN Kosovo

Through the Promoting fact-checking journalism to combat fake news and misinformation in Kosovo project, BIRN Kosovo and its project partners Internews Kosova, the Press Council of Kosovo and FindBug aim to promote fact-checking and bring together a community of journalists, media professionals, media outlets, and young media talents that will raise awareness, recognition and support for professional journalism, thereby helping to build a sustainable democracy. The purpose of this project is to fight fake news and misinformation, provide hands-on training for aspiring journalists and improve public awareness regarding professional journalism by establishing a platform that utilizes public data and fact-checking resources.

Summary:

Disinformation and fake news are disruptive to the normal functioning of democratic societies, economies and political systems worldwide. In recent years, fake news and orchestrated disinformation campaigns have had a geopolitical influence affecting elections in established and nascent democracies, and undermining the response to global challenges including the COVID- 19 crisis.

It is important to note that Kosovo slipped eight places in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index for 2021. It is now ranked 78th, while in 2020 it was 70th with a global score of 29.33 out of a possible 100 (with 100 being the worst and 0 being the best).

While media and civil society are the main groups to voice concerns over affairs related to public institutions, unfortunately journalists often lack the capacities and practical skills required to utilise freedom of information provisions, carry out in-depth investigations and monitor developments in public procurement, rule of law and organized crime. More importantly, they require focused training on reporting on these issues and upholding professional reporting and fact-checking standards.

Up until now, this absence of information has led to the publication of a proliferation of news stories containing false information, which in turn has led to rising panic and increased confusion and insecurity amongst citizens.

Fact verification and the placement of information in the correct social context is an activity that very few media in Kosovo are concerned with. Furthermore, the Press Council of Kosovo (PCK) has limited funds with which to publish manuals and/or guides regarding the forms of media reporting based on facts. This shows the need of the Kosovo audience for a strong fact-checking presence and the need for an initiative to tackle fake news and inaccurate information.

Additionally, educational programs on journalism in Kosovo do not offer extensive courses for students regarding these topics. As a result, local journalists and students of this field lack knowledge and skills relating to fact verification, and new methods that platforms such as Facebook or other media use in their fight against fake news.

BIRN Kosovo and its project partners aim to promote professional journalism based on fact- checking standards to a wider community of journalists and media outlets in Kosovo by monitoring and reporting false information spread by several media platforms. This will also help the audience to have access to credible sources and be mindful of reports that are not true.

In addition, BIRN aims to improve the capacities of young and mid-career journalists through a series of training sessions focusing on fact-checking tools and methods, including a Fellowship program that will support journalists to write stories using fact-checking tools.

 Donor:

U.S Embassy, Kosovo

Main Objective:

The Overall Goal of the project is to fight fake news and misinformation, provide hands-on training for aspiring journalists and improve public awareness regarding professional journalism by establishing a platform that utilizes public data and fact-checking resources.

Specific objectives:

Specific objective 1: Promote international fact-checking standards and compliance with the Media Code of Ethics among Kosovo journalists and improve local journalists’ capacities to conduct fact-checking work;

Specific objective 2: Design and prepare a fact-checking platform to facilitate fact-checking and recognition of fake news/misinformation in line with fact-checking standards;

Main Activities:

Activity 1: Conducting a research report on identifying gaps and need for reform in the Code of Ethics of the Press Council of Kosovo

Activity 2: Launching a platform to tackle fake news published by Kosovo media outlets

Activity 3: Publishing 60 Krypometër (Truth-o-Meter) articles on fake news on media

Activity 4: Organize 3 trainings on fact-checking methodology with young and professional journalists

Activity 5: Awarding 10 journalists with fellowship for writing fact-checking stories

Activity 6: Marking the International Fact-Checking Day

Target Groups:

Journalists

Young journalists

Journalism students

Media professionals

Media outlets

Kosovo citizens

Main implementer:

BIRN Kosovo

Partners:

Internews Kosova, FindBug, Press Council of Kosovo (PCK)

 

 

Building Bridges of Mutual Understanding and Reconciliation

BIRN Kosovo

Summary:

The need to create an equitable society bound by shared interests and values is of central importance to the democratic consolidation process and is the bedrock that will create and sustain peace. Thus, by fighting the structural factors contributing to inter-group inequality, by implementing this project BIRN Kosovo will equip youngsters from the Albanian and Serbian communities with the information necessary to advance democratic reforms. On top of this, BIRN also aims to improve the capacities of young journalists and students of journalism through a series of training sessions focusing on investigative journalism, including an Internship program that will support journalists to write stories using fact-checking and investigative tools.

 Donor:

UNMIK

Main Objective:

The main objective of the project is to bring together youngsters from different ethnic communities in Kosovo and engage them in journalistic work that seeks to ensure accountability and transparency from governmental institutions by addressing political, economic and social issues. Through a focus on commonly shared problems that all communities in Kosovo face, participants will also be given the opportunity to work together on shared interests and goals for the advancement of Kosovo society as a whole.

Specific Objectives:

Specific Objective 1 – Improve inter-ethnic cooperation between young journalists by strengthening their capacities in investigative journalism

Specific Objective 2 – Facilitate inter-ethnic dialogue and exchange best practices for investigative and fact-based journalism through an internship program

Main Activities:

Activity 1: Organizing a two-day workshop with Kosovo’s young journalists and students of journalism on investigative journalism.

Activity 2: Offering an internship program for four (4) young journalists/students of journalism from different ethnic communities living in Kosovo

Activity 3: Publishing 10 articles and two (2) TV reportages written and produced by the interns

Target Groups:

  • Young journalists from the Albanian and Serbian communities
  • Students of journalism and law from the Albanian and Serbian communities

In the front line – protecting journalists digital safety in the time of crisis

BIRN Serbia

The project addresses the lack of adequate response to the rising trend of online harassment, threats, pressures and abuses of journalists in the online sphere.

Summary:

Since 2014, Share and BIRN digital monitoring documented hundreds of cases of digital rights violations in various forms, from technical to psychological. The initial bad situation additionally escalated during the emergency situation and Covid 19 crisis. Journalists were systemically denied access to information, while those questioning the Government measures were intimated and subjected to various forms of online harassment, even undue arrest, resulting in the lack of reliable information for the public in the time of crisis.

In spite of journalists increasingly being at risk online, it is not sufficiently recognized by the existing legal setting. Consequently, institutional mechanisms for protection of journalists are not adequate. In addition, journalists themselves don’t have enough knowledge to protect themselves and integrity of their work in these situations, while public support is sporadic. Considering the growing importance of keeping the digital space free and open in the country where in general media freedoms are in decline the project will prevent, expose, react to and help counter various forms of online harassment.

 Donor:

EIDHR

Main Objective:

BIRN, IJAS, and IPI’s joint action aim to strengthen journalists’ resilience amid various forms of online harassment and pressures and thus enhance the role and position of media and civil society in standing for freedom of expression and free flow of information, as fundamental human rights. These rights are especially endangered during Covid 19 pandemic and similar crises.

Main Activities:

  1. Monitoring of the existing legal framework and practice in response to online attacks against journalists
  2. Advocacy actions to support IJAS/BIRN engagement in policy working groups and enable formulation of new policies and/or proper implementation in the digital sphere
  3. Capacity building for journalists
  4. Online platform development and promotion
  5. Services for journalists (legal support, online crisis communication, technical support)
  6. Journalistic production and ongoing online campaign

Target Groups:

  • Journalists, media outlets and media organizations
  • Independent institutions
  • CSO sector dealing with human rights
  • Decision makers
  • Citizens
  • International institutions dealing with human rights and media freedom

Main implementer:

Independent Journalists Association of Serbia (IJAS)

Partners:

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Serbia (BIRN Serbia)

International Press Institute (IPI)

 

 

Digital Rights Action: Enabling Free Flow of Information and Media Integrity

BIRN Serbia
The main goal of the project is to contribute to creating an enabling online environment for the free flow of information, in line with the standards of digital rights and media freedoms.

Summary

Donors: Balkans Trust for Democracy, MATRA Programme.

Information Sheet

Main Objective

The project’s overall goal is to contribute to creating an enabling online environment for the free flow of information, in line with the standards of digital rights and media freedoms.

Specific Objectives

  1. Public knowledge and understanding of the nature and impact of breaches of digital rights and freedoms are improved.
  2. Media policy framework advanced with new legislative solutions, responding to risks for media freedom and rights in the digital environment.
  3. Media improve standards of security, integrity and privacy protection in the digital environment.

Main Activities

  1. Providing the public with new information to instigate follow-up actions (including reactions, republications, and quotations) by relevant institutions, CSOs, other media outlets, and the public at large. Activities within this cluster include journalistic research, production, and publishing of in-depth articles, accompanied by data and document sets and multimedia material (visuals, video, audio). Based on the gathered material and findings ongoing public informing campaign will be implemented, including production, publishing, boosting and moderating a debate on social media channels
  2. Advocating and sustaining policy changes in domestic media regulatory framework includes the following activities: monitoring, consultations with beneficiaries and stakeholders, productions of policy solutions and amendments, participation in working groups, and other fora where media or related policies are discussed to advocate for its implementation.
  3. Raising capacities of media to implement standards of safety and integrity in the digital environment and their awareness of the potential risks – includes direct support to media outlets and journalists through service centre which will provide on-demand support in order to increase standards of privacy protection and the resilience of media and journalists in cases of digital rights violations and online attacks. In addition, a set of tools and internal procedures will be produced and promoted within the media community.

Target Groups

  1. Media community – Journalists, media outlets and media organisations.
  2. Independent institutions – Commissioner for Information of public importance, Ombudsman, Commissioner for Equality, RATEL/ National CERT.
  3. Civil sector – CSO dealing with human rights and data protection.
  4. Institutions – Ministry of Culture and Information and other relevant ministries and institutions in charge of various aspects of digital infrastructure and services (such as Ministry of Telecommunications, IKT office etc.)
  5. Public at large, especially computer literate.

Lead implementer

BIRN Serbia

Partner / Associate implementer:

SHARE Foundation

Are the Public Budgets Misused? Monitoring of State Financing Media Projects

BIRN Serbia
Non-transparent, uncontrolled, and arbitrary allocation of state funds is recognised as one of the most efficient mechanisms of ’soft-censorship’ harming media economic sustainability and, consequently, its independence.

Summary

The long-term objective of the project is transparency and accountability of state financing of media projects and ensuring the quality of public informing. Developed mechanisms of monitoring state budget spending on media will have a positive impact on a manner how the financial resources are allocated ad spent.

Donors: Open Society Foundation Serbia.

Information Sheet

Objectives

BIRN’s advocacy activities focus on public money spending in the media sector and potential corruption and state budgets misuses. Non-transparent, uncontrolled, and arbitrary allocation of state funds is recognised as one of the most efficient mechanisms of ’soft-censorship’ harming media economic sustainability and, consequently, its independence. BIRN, in partnership with IJAS and Slavko Curuvija Foundation implemented the project Public Money for Public Interest and monitored public money spending indicating occurred funds’ misuse. The consortium identified problems which require additional analysis: numerous abuses in the state funding media process (arbitrary selection of commission members, funds allocated to tabloids and media supporting the ruling party, lack of citizens’ participation and scrutiny), accompanied with a low-quality media production; inadequate regulations for individual fund allocations, lack of market and finance analysis before public procurement procedures, increase direct contracts allocation for various media and promotional services directly influencing editorial independence.

Activities

1) Monitoring of public money spending on media production;
2) Report production;
3) Advocacy campaign.

Target Groups

1) Local self-government
2) Ministry of Culture and Information
3) Citizens
4) Media outlets and media associations
5) Civil Society Organisations

Partners

Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia