Transparency of Judiciary and Responsibility of Media

BIRN BiH

Through its judicial transparency project, BIRN BiH aims to increase understanding of and support for the work of the State and Cantonal and District courts processing war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Summary

The project, which was launched in 2005, provides in-depth analysis of local courts and training to journalists. BIRN BiH analyses the level of transparency at local courts and prosecution offices and formulates recommendations for the smoother and more efficient processing of war crimes.

Through these activities, BIRN BiH promotes public awareness of war crimes trials, bringing the country closer to establishing truth and reconciliation. By dealing effectively with issues of the past it also contributes to Bosnia’s progress with Euro-Atlantic integration.

With this project, BIRN BiH works to maximize awareness of the work of local courts dealing with war crimes through objective, fair reporting.

As part of this project, the BIRN BiH team founded and runs the Bosnian Association of Court Reporters, and has conducted more than 50 workshops and trainings in local communities for representatives of the judiciary and media.

The project is supported through institutional grants from the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, and the MATRA Program of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, the project has received support from the United States Agency for International Development – Justice Sector Development Project II, and Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
BIRN BiH works to provide a comprehensive source of information open to the public, researchers and media, and involve Bosnian citizens and the wartime diaspora in the justice and reconciliation process. By making information available to the public, BIRN BiH advocates for a more efficient and transparent judiciary and public trust in judicial institutions.

Specific Objectives:

To maximize the awareness and knowledge of the work of local courts dealing with war crimes, among the target groups through objective, and fair reporting.

To conduct a progress report on the work of the local courts dealing with war crimes, ensuring that they are not left behind in the judiciary reform processes.

To seek common solutions to sector-wide needs and problems.

To incite constructive dialog between stakeholders including the judiciary, civil society, media and international community.

To involve BIH citizens and the wartime diaspora in the justice and reconciliation process, as key victims and witnesses, but also a vital factor in BiH’s community and future development.

Main Activities:

The BIRN BiH team also conducts progress reports on the work of the local courts, and seeks common solutions to sector-wide needs. BIRN BiH encourages constructive dialog between stakeholders in the judiciary, civil society, media and international community through workshops and trainings in local communities.
Target Groups:
The judicial transparency and media responsibility project targets the general public as well as local, regional and international media and judicial institutions, and civil society groups, local governments, and international policy-makers.
They include local journalists, editors of media outlets, public relations officers of the courts, prosecutor offices, and police, judges and prosecutors, as well as an OSCE representative.
Highlights:

BIRN BiH’s advocacy programme has been a leading facilitator of the dialogue between media and judiciary at the local and state level.BIRN BiH founded the Association of Court Reporters (AiS). Together we organize a series of meetings between local media and representatives of the judiciary each year. In 2013, BIRN BiH – AiS meetings were held in Travnik, Eastern Sarajevo, Doboj, Trebinje, Brcko District, and Sarajevo. Since the start of the project, BIRN BiH organized more than 70 workshops in local communities for representatives of judiciary and media.

BIRN BiH was the first organization in the country to notice the Court of BiH’s adoption of the Rulebook on Access to Information, and Instructions on Anonymization of Courts Decisions, Audio/Video Recordings from Trials and publicly address it.

Through the transparency project and consistent campaigning against censorship, BIRN BiH has succeeded in making the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council in BiH (HJPC) to adopt a decision that should put an end to anonymisation of indictments, verdicts, and other courts’ audio-visual material. The decision is expected to be released in 2014.

BIRN BiH and AiS managed to introduce amendments to the existing Press Code of the BiH Press Council and the rules for journalists reporting on war crimes trials. It has also been a leading facilitator of the dialogue between media and judiciary at the local and state level.

In September 2009, BIRN BiH organised the first regional conference dedicated to judiciary transparency and the responsibility of the media, which brought together all the major actors from ex-Yugoslavia.

BIRN BiH established a partnership with FBiH Association of Prosecutors in order to have better impact on judiciary representatives over workshops that will be organized in the following years.

Project for Investigative Journalism and Cooperation Between Media and Civil Society

BIRN Macedonia – past programme
Through the “Project For Investigative Journalism And Cooperation Between Media And Civil Society” BIRN Macedonia works with NGO representatives and journalists to build and foster efficient links between media and non-governmental organizations with a goal for greater visibility of the NGOs and creating environment for production of more relevant investigative stories.

Summary

The project aims to support the investigative journalists with financial support and providing a room for publishing the stories.  The Project is part of the USAID programme for strengthening independent media in Macedonia and is implemented in partnership with Center for Civil Communications, Senter for investigative journalism - SCOOP Macedonia, TV magazine KOD and daily newspaper KOHA.

The project which was launched in December 2012 has several different elements including fostering links between journalists and NGOs, training of NGO representatives, supporting the journalists to investigate and publishing their stories.

Macedonia’s media are troubled with many challenges. Closure of independent and critical media, increasing pressure and control of the government over numerous media outlets and rising trend of self-censorship have led to a journalism guided by political and business interests of media owners, limited space for objective reporting and have almost wiped out investigative reporting. At the same time, professional journalism standards are largely ignored.

With this project BIRN Macedonia promotes and tries to strengthen the relation between the media and NGOs by detecting the priority issues of common interest. Ten debates with different topic between journalists and NGOs are included. The goal is the participants to detect the topics that need to be challenged.

BIRN Macedonia supports the investigative journalism by opening eight calls for investigative stories. About 40 journalists will be awarded with financial support for in-depth investigation on specific topic. The selected journalists will be provided with mentors from BIRN and partner organizations staff who will guide the journalists through the investigative process.

The Project provides publishing the stories written by the selected journalists on a separate web site designed for the Project but also on other media. The web site will not serve only for publishing the stories but also as a data base of NGOs and experts in various fields so the journalists and NGO representatives can check the needed information and contacts.

BIRN Macedonia together with its partners will provide training and expertise for the NGOs and media through 10 workshops so they create common language, but also to train the NGOs to get bigger visibility in the media.

Together with the KOD TV magazine 12 investigative programs will be created in the framework of the Project.

The project was initiated by BIRN Macedonia in 2012 and was supported by USAID.

Information Sheet

Main Objective:
 
  • To bridge the current gap between journalists and non-governmental organizations on issues of public interest
  • To build operational and efficient partnerships between CSOs and media as base for more objective journalism, and more informed public.

Specific Objectives:

 
  • Establish partnership relations between media and CSOs that will enable a long- term cooperation, instead of one-off contacts on issues of public interest. Currently media tend to ignore or use the work of CSOs selectively, thus depriving the public of the big picture. At the same time, both media and CSO’s have not forged any strong ties or cooperation.
  • Achieve greater visibility of the work of CSOs and in turn greater media legitimacy; design a line of communication between media and CSOs, so CSOs can arm journalists with necessary reporting information in public interest helping their professional, fact-based, and objective information, resulting in more professional journalistic stories.
  • Support public interest journalism; By improving journalists’ skills, capacities, tools, information and offering financial resources for in depth and investigative reports, as well as room for publishing of their stories the project aims to create a pool of investigative journalists, create a web platform and contribute a significant number of reports on key issues.
  • Provide the public with better and more substantial information as base to make informed decisions (in their private lives, businesses and as members of the society), raise public awareness on key issues and stir debate.

Main Activities:

 
  • Detecting of media and CSOs common issues, through a series of public debates between journalists and CSOs representatives.
  • Research of the current media coverage of the detected common issues, through an in-depth monitoring of the way Macedonian media and journalists report those issues
  • Creating a common language for CSOs and media through 10 workshops for CSOs
  • Technical assistance to Macedonian journalists in reporting important issues on more professional, fact-based and objective way
  • Providing journalists and CSOs with a room for reporting for issues of common interest and for offering citizens important information to make right
  • Sharing information and news reporting materials with other Balkan countries

Target Groups:

 
  • Journalists and CSOs from Macedonia