Meet the People Behind BIRN: Behar Mustafa

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Behar Mustafa is a court monitor, researcher and journalist for the TV programme Justice in Kosovo.

Photo: BIRN Kosovo/Naser Fejza

Before joining BIRN in 2014, he worked in various NGOs and media outlets, including the daily newspaper Koha Ditore, where he served as Vushtrri correspondent, and at Kosova Channel in Mitrovica. Although he has a degree in law, he decided to work as a journalist.

Let’s find out why and let’s meet him!

  1. You graduated in law but work as a journalist. What made you decide to pursue that career?

I started in journalism working as a court monitor and journalist/ correspondent from Mitrovica. Before journalism, I was part of civil society, mainly engaged with youth and women empowerment. I studied Law and this helped me to work in an organisation such as BIRN because of the scope of interest it has in the field of justice. It has been 10 years since I started with BIRN.

  1. What’s it like working in Kosovo as a court monitor and researcher? What is most challenging for you?

Nowadays, it is easier to do the job than when I started a decade ago. Initially, from 2014 to 2015, I worked in Mitrovica, covering mostly trials that were carried out by Mitrovica court, and at that time it was very difficult to get there because the court is located in the northern part of the town and we needed to find ways to go there. It was also very difficult to organise your day as a court monitor because in North Mitrovica the court has only courtrooms; all the staff, including prosecutors, were based in another town, in Vushtrri, some 15 kilometers from Mitrovica. There were cases when we went to Mitrovica to attend a trial, but during the day, we had to go to Vushtrri for any request that our job required us to do.

  1. Last year, you received the ‘Best TV Story of the Year’ award from the Association of Journalists of Kosovo for your ‘Brezovica Dossier’ investigation. Tell us more about it.

Last year our team was awarded “Best TV Story of the Year” by the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK. This was a special moment because my colleagues and I got an award for a story we had been patiently working on for almost three years.

“Brezovica Dossier” aired in September 2023. This investigation was done through a series of publications that show how politicians, businesspeople, and other powerful figures in Kosovo are suspected of bribery related to the construction of villas without any criteria in a picturesque tourist site in Kosovo, which has caused huge environmental damage to the beauty of the mountains in this resort. The prize becomes even more special because prosecutors who investigated the case used our findings as well grounded for their work.

  1. What story/stories that you worked on made you incredibly proud (please insert the link to that story/stories)?

I am mostly proud of my stories from the north, which disclosed cases of smuggling, which resulted in many arrests, but also stories related to tenders given by institutions and the way they have been granted to people and businesses close to the authorities.

  1. What makes a good journalist?

Working always for the truth, seeking and finding the truth, even when it looks difficult and, in some cases, impossible. It is very important to take time analysing the facts in front of you and not to publish anything you are not certain presents the whole truth of the story. We are reporting for the public, and public trust is something sacred in our job, something that makes you a good journalist. Once you misuse that trust, you are done for in this job.

  1. What should any journalist not agree to, especially the young?

Not to accept to report on anything you don’t have enough facts about – and avoid political, religious or ethnic bias.