Workshop in Bosnia on Humanitarian Approaches to Reporting on Missing Persons

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With the aim of improving media reporting on missing persons with a focus on a humanitarian approach, as well as on war crimes and transitional justice, a six-day training for journalists and journalism students from all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina was held in Sarajevo from Friday 12 November till Wednesday 17 November 2021.

Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN BiH, in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, and the UN Development Programme, UNDP, held the training for 15 journalists and journalism students.

During the first part, editors and journalists from BIRN BiH,  and ICRC representatives discussed with participants taking a humanitarian approach to reporting on missing persons, as well as on how to interview families of the missing and report on the subject in a professional and ethical manner.

Representatives of the ICRC, the Missing Persons Institute of BiH and International Commission on Missing Persons familiarized the participants with the work of those institutions, providing insight into information and ways of collaboration with a view to achieving a better quality of investigations into the missing.

Journalists were informed about BIRN standards in reporting on the missing persons, and on experiences and challenges in the field, with a special emphasis on the way the COVID pandemic has further delayed the finding of missing persons.

The participants also talked to some families of missing persons, learn how to report on war crimes from courtrooms and what topics they could cover during their work.

Representatives of the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as attorneys representing war crime defendants before state and local courts, spoke about the role of parties to the proceedings and the right to defence.Research on “How the Media in BiH Report on Missing Persons” was also presented.

As part of the training, the journalists also visited the state court to follow war crime trials and apply in practice what they had learnt during the workshop.

The first part of the workshop covering reporting on missing persons with a special focus on a humanitarian approach was organised with the help of the ICRC while UNDP helped organize the training on war-crimes reporting.