Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence – Winners Chosen

Polish journalist Maria Wilczek was awarded the first prize in the Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence at a ceremony held in Vienna in May.

Wilczek won the 3,000-euro award for her story about the football ultras from Belarus who were inspired by their nationalist counterparts in Ukraine to rise up against their own Moscow-allied government. Her reporting, centred on a group of exiled hooligans, revealed how violent rivalries were cast aside in opposition to the Lukashenko regime. Announcing the award, Fellowship jury member and executive director of the Albanian Media Institute, Remzi Lani, praised “an elegant and complex story about an unknown game, played away – a tale of resistance against the last dictatorship in Europe.”

Czech journalist Anna Koslerova was awarded the second prize for her story about the Czech state’s failure to compensate thousands of Roma women who had been sterilised against their will. The award was given by the jury member and editor for the Swiss daily, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Elena Panagiotidis, who praised the story for showing the enduring suffering of the victims and for “giving them a voice, without being voyeuristic”.

The award for the third prize was shared between two journalists: Alexia Kalaitzi from Greece and Matea Grgurinovic from Croatia.

Kalaitzi’s story examined the impact of the war in Ukraine on a decarbonisation drive in Greece’s coal-mining heartland. Jury member Kristof Bender, deputy chairman of the European Stability Initiative, praised the story for taking the reader to “the people and places directly affected by this major economic and social transition” – uncovering a struggle that was “not only very relevant for Greece, but also for all of Europe and, actually, the planet as a whole.”

Grgurinovic’s story examined the failure to re-house the victims of an earthquake in Croatia’s long-neglected interior. Presenting the award, jury member and BIRN editor Gyula Csak said the story showed a depth of human suffering that cannot be revealed by numbers alone. By spending time with her subjects, Grgurinovic had revealed the impact “not just of the earthquake” but of the devastation wrought by war and by official policy after independence.

The ceremony celebrated the successful completion of the 2021 edition of the programme. The stories from the programme were published throughout 2022 under the topic, Transformation.

In addition to the awarded journalists, the 2021 fellows were Mateusz Mazzini (Poland); Eva Kubaniova (Czech Republic); Vojtech Berger (Czech Republic); Mateusz Kowalik (Poland).

Alongside Remzi Lani, Elena Panagiotidis, Kristof Bender and Gyula Csak, the jury was comprised of Milorad Ivanovic, representative of the FJE alumni network; Florian Hassel, Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung; and Adelheid Wolfl, correspondent for Austrian daily Der Standard.

With the conclusion of this year’s programme, the 10 fellows join the FJE alumni network, which consists of more than 150 journalists from 14 CEE countries, who promote the highest professional standards.

The Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence was launched in 2007 to promote high-quality, cross-border reporting. The programme provides fellows with financial and editorial support, allowing them to travel, report and write their stories and develop their journalistic skills. In 2020, the fellowship programme expanded to include journalists from the Visegrad Four countries of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

The Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence is implemented by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and supported by ERSTE Foundation.



BIRN Organises Cross-Border Stories Workshop in Georgia

As part of a project exploring foreign influences in the Balkans, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, BIRN and its partners organised a workshop in Georgia, focusing on the joint production of cross-border and cross-regional reports.

A three-day training workshop was held in Batumi, Georgia from May 25-29, bringing together around 20 journalists and editors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Georgia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The workshop is part of the project ‘Spheres of Influence Uncovered, jointly implemented by BIRN, German NGO n-ost, Uzbek media outlet Anhor and Georgia’s JAMNews.

Over the three days, the participants learned more about the importance of cross-border reporting in the context of the topics the project is covering. They were also guided through successful cross-border stories published by BIRN, JAMNews and Anhor and given tips and advice on how to approach potential cross-border topics.

They also were given advice about where to look for data, how to obtain official data when public institutions are reluctant to release it, how to interview experts and what to expect from them, how to read complicated records and who to ask for help with them.

The participants were asked to list potential problems and issues they might come across while investigating and writing about political and economic players in their regions.

Split into cross-border teams, the journalists worked on specific stories with editors from all three regions. The first cross-border and cross-regional stories are to be published by the end of the year.

The project ‘Spheres of Influence Uncovered’ aims to contribute to a better understanding of the roles that three key international players – the EU, Russia and China – have on the seven project countries’ economies.

During the project, the participating journalists will map the economic activities of these three players and identify the main challenges and consequences for their countries. This project is partly a follow-up to BIRN’s previous work in the sphere of foreign economic activities, explored in its interactive map of China’s activities in the Balkans.



BIRN Film About Victims of Yugoslav Wars Screened in Serbia

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network’s latest documentary, exploring the lives and struggles of civilian war victims from Serbia, Kosovo and North Macedonia, was broadcast by Euronews Serbia.

The documentary ‘Forgotten Victims’ (‘Zaboravljene Žrtve’), which tells the stories of four families who lost someone in the wars in Serbia, Kosovo and North Macedonia during the 1990s or were direct victims themselves, was screened by Euronews Serbia on Saturday and Sunday.

The film showcases the continuing failure of the systems in the three countries to address the needs of civilian victims of war, more than two decades after the conflicts ended.

It follows Bekim Gashi and Slavica Popovic from Kosovo and Andronika Jovanovska and Skender Zimberi from North Macedonia in their decade-long struggles to learn who killed their loved ones, win compensation from the state and get some kind of acknowledgment for their suffering.

In the film, they explain how they feel abandoned and betrayed by all the key players – including their own states and the international community.

While some, like Gashi, are at the end of a lengthy reparation process, most will probably never get any compensation. In most Balkan countries, material reparations are possible via civil lawsuits after a final, guilty verdict is reached in court. With the slow pace of war crime trials and legal challenges, those who received compensation are a minority.

The film also tackles the ongoing trial of former Kosovo Liberation Army fighters and the issues some Serbian war victims are having with the international lawyers assigned to them by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague.

The film was financed by the European Union and includes interviews with victims’ associations, legal experts, civil society activists, lawyers and government representatives.

Kushtrim Koliqi, executive director at the Pristina-based NGO Integra, which was part of the project, told BIRN that the purpose of the film is “to assist in the recognition of past injustices, their memorialisation and reparation, but also testify about the social challenges of transition.”

The documentary is also intended to “open up discussion and offer a new perspective on the life of different war victims after their losses, hence opening up spaces for new ways of dealing with the past”, Koliqi added.

The Albanian and Macedonian versions of the same film have already been screened in Kosovo and North Macedonia. All three versions of the film, as well as one with English subtitles, are soon to be published on the BIRN Network’s YouTube channel.

The film ‘Forgotten Victims’ was produced as part of the Strengthening Inclusive Victims’ Voices: Transforming Narratives project and financed by the European Union. Apart from BIRN, the other partners in the project are Integra, New Social Initiative, Civic Initiatives, PAX and the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ).


War Crimes Prosecutions Still Hampered by Lack of Regional Cooperation

Limited resources, victims’ mistrust of courts and the problem of bringing fugitives to justice are the most pressing issues that war crimes prosecutors in the former Yugoslavia are facing, a BIRN conference was told.

Prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro and representatives of international missions told a conference organised by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Pristina on Friday that there is a need for the new and improved collaboration protocols between former Yugoslav countries to improve the exchange of evidence and extradition of war crimes indictees.

Ivan Matesic, the Deputy Chief Prosecutor – Head of the Department for War Crimes, told the conference entitled ‘Archives and Conflict Prevention: Lessons from the Past, Visions for the Future’ that his country currently has 260 pending war crimes cases that need to be investigated, and in half of them the suspects are fugitives abroad and can’t be brought to court.

Most of the people under investigation for war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina are either in Serbia or Croatia, which both refuse to extradite their citizens to Sarajevo.

But other issues are also hampering regional cooperation, such unwillingness to prosecute senior officials responsible for war crimes and a lack of trust among victims, according to Matesic.

“Victims don’t trust judicial institutions from other countries in the region. And for a case to be transferred to the Serbian or Croatian prosecution offices, victims need to give consent and that often takes a lot of time and effort from the Bosnian prosecution to convince them,” Matesic said.

War victims from Bosnia and Herzegovina have expressed discontent about decisions by the Croatian and Serbian judiciaries, which have often classified crimes differently than their counterparts in Sarajevo. Cases related to Srebrenica are prosecuted in Serbia as war crimes rather than genocide, while Croatian courts often give lower sentences to Croat defendants.

Cooperation in war crimes prosecutions is particularly difficult for Kosovo because it is not recognised by its neighbours Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Kosovo war crimes prosecutor Drita Hajdari said that it is also a challenge to get evidence from the successor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, a United Nations institution. Kosovo is not a member of the UN as it is not recognised by the majority of member states.

“Our requests to states rarely get positive answers. And in the case of the ICTY, as it is a UN institution, we can’t cooperate with it directly, so our requests need to go through the justice ministry and EU office, which we are often reluctant to do as the information is very sensitive,” Hajdar said.

“We have sensitive cases, and often there is a privacy concern as the information may be leaked,” she explained.

Civil society organisations also criticised the growing number of trials in absentia in the region.

Sofija Todorovic, director of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights in Serbia, in absentia trials are often used for political purposes and undermine the right to a fair trial.

Kosovo, Serbia and Croatia have all amended their legislation to allow absentia trials to take place. When Serbia launched a war crimes case against Croatian officers last year it caused a political row between the two countries.

The conference also heard civil society activists and members of cultural and memorial institutions discussing the role of archives in fighting the growing problem of revisionism in the region, as well as preventing the recurrence of crimes.

Velma Saric, director of Post Conflict Research Centre, said this is particularly relevant in countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina where young people are still going to segregated schools and learning different versions of the history of the 1990s wars.

“For us, young people are the key audience and key partner. We used the archives of courts and other civil society groups to create educational programmes and materials. We want to show and teach young people the war through court-determined facts,” Saric said.

Nikola Mokrovic, an archivist from Documenta in Croatia, explained how the rapid pace of technological advancements poses a significant challenge, as archives must constantly adapt to new formats, storage systems and digital preservation methods.

Azir Osmanovic from the Srebrenica Memorial Center emphasised the importance of cooperation and partnership with organisations such as BIRN in order to preserve memories and create educational projects together with war survivors.

The conference also heard a presentation about BIRN’s updated Bitter Land database about mass graves from the wars in the former Yugoslavia and about Reporting House, BIRN’s museum focusing on the role of media in the 1990s wars, which is set to open later this year in Sarajevo.



Meet the People Behind BIRN: Vuk Maras

Each month, BIRN introduces you to a different member of its team. For April, meet Vuk Maras, BIRN Montenegro Executive Director.

Vuk Maras, 37, is Executive Director of BIRN network’s new member, BIRN Montenegro, set up in 2023.

Vuk is based in Podgorica; he studied economics and has worked in the non-profit sector since he was 18 years old, “constantly fighting against corruption and organised crime and advocating for the better rule of law and human rights”, as he told BIRN.

For over three years, he worked as a consultant for BIRN Hub on various projects. He sees his job in BIRN Montenegro more as a duty than as work. In the upcoming months, BIRN Montenegro will produce programmes and investigative stories to inform Montenegrin citizens and other stakeholders, and hold the government and public officials accountable.

Let’s meet him!

  1. BIRN Montenegro is the newest BIRN Network member, set up in 2023. Would you like to tell us more about it?

Montenegro is the only Western Balkan country where BIRN did not have a local office, so this was a logical step for the network. In a situation where the quality of journalism is constantly in decline, where investigative journalism is an exception rather than a common practice, it was necessary to bring something new to the citizens of Montenegro. Moreover, with recent changes to the regime that was ruling Montenegro for over three decades, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that the old corrupt practices do not continue and that Montenegro is able to build institutions that will secure its Euro-Atlantic integration, but also bring a better appreciation of human rights to all its citizens. BIRN Montenegro will investigate cases and bring high-quality news to the public discourse in order to inform Montenegrin citizens and other stakeholders, and to hold the government and public officials accountable.

  1. What drove you to work for BIRN Montenegro, specifically for a media non-profit? What do you like most in your new job, and what is the most challenging thing?

Short answer – lack of justice. I have been an active part of the Montenegrin non-profit sector since I was 18, constantly fighting against corruption and organised crime and advocating for better rule of law and human rights. With such a personal background, BIRN Montenegro, but also the entire BIRN family, is a logical continuation of something I believe is my cause, rather than work.

3. How was the process of forming a media non-profit in Montenegro from scratch? Did you confront difficulties? How did you overcome them?

At this point, we are still finalizing the paperwork and expect our portal to be fully operational in a few months’ time. But through this process, we were able to see how the bureaucracy, inherited even from communist times, can sometimes make life impossible for those fighting for changes and reforms.

4. What shall we expect from BIRN Montenegro in the coming months?

Many interesting investigative stories, hopefully a lot of truthful and professional news pieces, and a lot of activities in the field, improving the overall media scene in Montenegro.

5. What advice would you give to people currently trying to form a media non-profit in the region?

I would say, no matter how hard it sometimes looks, it pays off, as media and NGOs are the key pillars in each country in the region that are protecting democracy and human rights.



BIRN Publishes Oral History Videos of War Survivors’ Stories

BIRN has published 20 videos of interviews with war survivors from Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, filmed by young journalists, students and activists as part of a transitional justice storytelling project.

Twenty videos showing people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia speaking about their experiences of the wars of the 1990s have been published on BIRN’s YouTube channel.

Some of the survivors talk about their childhood memories of fleeing their homes and being forcibly displaced from their hometowns, while others share emotional stories of losing loved ones. Some also speak about their involvement in psychotherapy for survivors and transitional justice activism.

The videos are the result of a training workshop for 11 young journalists, students, activists and other interested people held in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in October 2022.

The Visual Storytelling Using War Crime Archives workshop organised by BIRN’s Transitional Justice Programme was aimed at educating participants in how to contribute to reconciliation and memorialisation processes by exploring archives and using them for independent video storytelling.

Participants learned how to create a safe, non-partisan and compassionate space for survivors to tell their stories and how to produce stories in a short video format that do not trivialise war crimes and war victims’ experiences.

“Youth involvement in transitional justice efforts is essential to promote intergenerational dialogue, foster social cohesion and strengthen the sustainability of peacebuilding,” said Nejra Mulaomerovic, the coordinator of BIRN’s Transitional Justice Programme.

“Young people, particularly those who have been affected by conflict, have a unique perspective on the impact of violence and injustice on their lives and communities. Their engagement in the transitional justice process can help to ensure that the next generation is invested in promoting accountability, reconciliation and peace,” she added.

Mulaomerovic said that storytelling is crucial to the process of transitional justice because it has the power to highlight atrocities and hidden personal memories that can be used to encourage the further sharing of similar experiences.

“Storytelling also has the power to change the narrative surrounding personal experiences of war trauma. The dominant narrative around war often centres on the nationalistic perspective, which can overshadow the human cost of war, including the experiences of civilians,” she said.

“Through storytelling, victims and survivors can challenge this dominant narrative and humanise the experiences of those affected by war,” she added.

BIRN published another series of videos of survivors’ stories after a previous workshop in 2021 about storytelling and transitional justice reporting.

The videos produced by the participants were posted on BIRN’s social media channels, where they were viewed by more than 115,000 people on various platforms.

See all the videos on BIRN’s YouTube channel here.



Calls Opens for EU Investigative Journalism Award 2023

Journalists from the Western Balkans and Türkiye are invited to enter their investigative stories for a series of prestigious national and regional prizes.

The EU Award for Investigative Journalism 2023 is now accepting submissions. Once again, the prestigious award celebrates the best investigative stories published in the previous calendar year and open to journalists from the Western Balkans and Türkiye.

This year, as well as national awards, the EU Award is introducing a regional award for the best stories from the entire region based on clearly defined criteria. This new category is an exciting development that will encourage journalists to think beyond national borders and tackle issues that affect the entire region.

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).

Stories that can be nominated should contribute to freedom of expression, the rule of law and transparency. They should cover a variety of topics affecting national and regional economies, challenges to countries’ EU integration processes and issues such as organised crime, corruption, the rise of extremism, various forms of foreign influence, human rights violations, including those in the digital sphere, as well as other topics with which the public would not otherwise be familiar.

Entries can be nominated for the national or regional award, or for both, and this possibility is offered through the application form itself. Additionally, one candidate may apply to the competition with several stories.

The winners from the national awards in the Western Balkan region and Türkiye automatically become candidates for the regional EU award for investigative journalism, if their application form so states. The jury for both the national and the regional awards consists of local and international media experts, editors, members of academia and journalists with merits.

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. It 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 is being implemented by a consortium composed of Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – BIRN Hub, Central European University (CEU) – Hungary, 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).

The deadline for submissions is June 20, 2023, by midnight CET.

For more details, contact [email protected].

To download all necessary documents for English click here

To download all necessary documents for Serbia click here

To download all necessary documents for Kosovo click here

To download all necessary documents for Bosnia and Herzegovina click here

To download all necessary documents for Montenegro click here

To download all necessary documents for North Macedonia click here

To download all necessary documents for Albania click here

To download all necessary documents for Turkey click here



Calling Balkan and Visegrad Newsrooms: Apply Now for Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants

BIRN is calling on 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 seeking applications from Visegrad and Balkan newsrooms for Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants, a programme designed to support journalists in ten European countries who want to create next-level investigative reports by engaging with their audiences through an innovative digital tool.

Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants offer funding, training and mentoring for ten (10) media outlets in: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Serbia and Slovakia.

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

With this programme, BIRN aims to support media outlets in producing impactful, audience-engaged stories that address pressing issues facing their communities. Successful applicants will be provided with the necessary resources to create individual or cross-border audience-engaged stories.

Grants offered?

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

BIRN will grant €5,000 to eight (8) successful applicants interested in producing a cross-border audience-engaged story. In situations in which a media outlet already has a media partner for a cross-border story, they may apply together 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 which 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 June 30, 2023, following this link.

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

If you have any questions, feel free to register and join one of our info sessions:

  • Information session 15 May 2023 at 15:00 (CET), register HERE.
  • Information session 13 June 2023 at 10:00 (CET), register HERE.

More questions?

Read the FAQ.

Write to the project coordinator at [email protected].

Follow BIRN on Facebook and Twitter.



BIRN Invites Journalists to join IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival in Vienna

Explore ‘New frontiers: Press freedom and media innovation in the age of AI’ at a two-day event in Vienna

The International Press Institute will host the 2023 IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival, gathering well known media innovators, founders, editors, and big thinkers from all over the world for May 25-26 in Vienna.

The event will explore the rapidly changing global and technological landscape of independent journalism under the theme, “New frontiers: Press freedom and media innovation in the age of AI.” The goal is to build a solid foundation for the future of news media by reflecting on the past.

Balkan Investigative Reporting network, BIRN, will partner with IPI at this two-day event, taking place at Vienna’s Museums Quartier, supporting its aims to lead the discussion about the impact on press freedom and media innovation.

The Media Innovation Festival, IPI’s innovation program‘s new flagship, will debut during this event. The festival will explore how journalists are using new approaches and tools, including the power of AI, to promote innovation in journalism. It will become an annual event, bringing together media innovators, founders, editors, and big thinkers in line with IPI’s belief that collaboration is the best way to stay ahead of the curve in media transition by driving and sharing new ideas and experiences.

The IPI World Congress, taking place alongside the Media Innovation Festival, will explore pressing issues facing press freedom and independent journalism in light of the rise of authoritarianism and rampant disinformation, with a particular emphasis on the impact of emerging technologies such as AI.

Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss digital censorship, surveillance, media capture, and safety concerns when reporting on conflicts and protests, and to share their insights and solutions with fellow participants, in keeping with the collaborative ethos of the IPI global network.

The 2023 IPI-IMS World Press Freedom Hero and Free Media Pioneer award ceremony will conclude the Congress and Innovation Festival on the evening of Friday May 26, at Vienna’s city hall. This will kick off a night of celebrating journalism at the Vienna press freedom ball, which Congress participants will have the rare opportunity to attend. The press freedom ball is one of the highlights of Vienna’s ball season, hosted by the oldest press club in the world, PresseClub Concordia.

This is a moment of change that presents both challenges and opportunities which is why we invite you to join the Vienna festival.

Registration for the 2023 IPI World Congress and Media Innovation Festival is now open, via the following link.

For more information about the programme visit the event page.

Media Innovation Europe (MIE) is a two-year program, funded by the European Union and led by the International Press Institute (IPI), along with Thomson Media (TM) in Berlin, the Media Development Foundation (MDF) in Kyiv, and BIRN in Sarajevo. The primary objective of MIE is to provide European newsrooms with the necessary resources, time, space, and expertise to navigate the challenges they face, reach new audiences, and secure financial sustainability.

 As part of this program, BIRN has taken the lead in managing the Audience-Engaged Journalism Grants, which are aimed at empowering media outlets to engage their audiences in investigative reporting.



SEE Digital Rights Network Members Meet in North Macedonia

Attending organisations agreed to regularly share information among network members and proposed scheduling routine online meetings to keep up to date with each other’s activities.

BIRN convened Southeast Europe SEE Digital Rights Network members from North Macedonia in Skopje for their first national meeting on April 19, bringing together representatives from various organisations committed to advancing digital rights.

At the meeting, delegates gave presentations about their organisations’ work in the digital rights sphere and explored potential collaborative efforts to boost the efficiency of their initiatives.

The organisations represented at the meeting were IMPETUS, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, the Metamorphosis Foundation, the Centre for Media Development, and the Internet Governance Forum North Macedonia, IGF MKD.

Participants discussed their organisations’ current projects, plans and ideas for digital rights-related work.

IMPETUS is concentrating on digital rights and security for NGOs, generating a risk assessment and creating a policy brief addressing the cyber challenges that NGOs face and building capacity for these organisations.

A representative of IGF MKD said their organisation is currently facilitating dialogue on internet governance issues among in stakeholders in North Macedonia and organising an annual forum to connect various parties involved in digitalisation discussions.

The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights is prioritising hate speech, digital rights and cyberbullying research, with a keen interest in engaging with young people and advocating for legal amendments in the digital domain. The Helsinki Committee also expressed interest in joining the SEE Digital Rights Network and planning for a first regional meeting.

A delegate from the Metamorphosis Foundation said their organisation is working on media for democracy, social accountability, education for innovation and human rights online, focusing on e-government, privacy by design and fact-checking.

The Media Development Centre’s representative said the organisation is focusing on freedom of information and media system reform in the country, and analysing the influence of new technology in the media sector and journalism.

During a brainstorming session, attendees agreed that it is necessary to regularly share information among network members and proposed scheduling routine online meetings to keep up to date with each other’s activities, among other communication-related proposals. They also debated the potential evaluation of the network’s impact on organisations and information-sharing for joint applications and cross-cutting national and local targets.

The meeting concluded that as the SEE Digital Rights Network continues to broaden its scope and cultivate cooperation among its members, the influence of its work on digital rights in the region is expected to increase, fostering a more secure and inclusive digital environment for all.