BIRN BiH Journalist Shortlisted for Thomson Foundation Award

An investigation into the US far-rightist Robert Rundo and his organization by Nermina Kuloglija-Zolj of BIRN BiH has been shortlisted for the Thomson Foundation’s Young Journalist Award.

By Enes Hodzic

An investigative piece into US far-rightist Thomas Rundo’s influence in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and his activities in those two countries, by Nermina Kuloglija-Zolj of BIRN BiH, has been shortlisted for the Thomson Foundation’s Young Journalist Award – dedicated to finding talented and ambitious journalists from all over the world. It is competing with 11 other stories.

BIRN BiH’s investigation into Rundo, who is considered the founder of the Rise Above Movement, R.A.M., in the United States, which says it is fighting a modern world corrupted by “the destructive cultural influences” of liberals, Jews, Muslims and non-white immigrants, shows that after having been accused of charges in the US, he headed towards Europe.

Although he has concealed his places of residence, Kuloglija-Zolj reveals that, over the past two years, he has appeared at numerous events in Serbia and participated in activities of various organizations opposing migrants, reiterating their anti-Roma and anti-Semitic stands and expressing disagreement with Serbia’s entry in the European Union and NATO.

It was determined also that he has spent a certain time in the eastern Serb-run part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

At the same time, authorities in Serbia and Bosnia have not divulged information on when and how often he has crossed the borders between the two countries – one which he was officially expelled from, and the other from which, he said himself, he was banned and whose police were reportedly looking for him.

The aim of the Thomson Foundation’s Award for Young Journalists, which is presented in partnership with the UK Foreign Press Association, is to spotlight young journalists and their work and enable their voice to be heard and for them to feel the power of journalism to create significant changes. The award is open to journalists aged 30 or under, only from countries with a Gross National Income per capita of less than US$ 20,000.

After the list was announced, Kuloglija-Zolj said it was an honour to be placed among the 12 shortlisted young journalists who have worked over the past year on investigative pieces exposing inconsistencies affecting the development of their societies.

“The story about Robert Rundo, for which I was nominated, was a new experience in comparison to previous investigations,” she said, “due to the outspread of activities of the group with which he associated and, on the other hand, due to the closed nature of all those groups and the refusal of their leaders to be interviewed,” Kuloglija-Zolj said.

Now in its 10th year, the Award received a remarkable number of entries from all over the world. Besides the BIRN BiH journalist’s piece on Rundo, other nominees are from Yemen, Guatemala, Ukraine, India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Malaysia.

Following the announcement of the short-listed entries, independent judges at the UK Foreign Press Association will select three finalists whose names will be revealed in October. They will be vying for the award itself, to be presented on November 28 at a gala dinner in London.

In addition to receiving the award, the three finalists and three best shortlisted journalists will have a chance to be mentored by six established journalists and former students of the Thomson Foundation.

 

 

BIRN Debate Calls for Faster Prosecution of Corruption in Bosnia

During the debate, ‘(Anti)Corruption in Focus’, organised by Bosnian BIRN and Transparency International in Sarajevo, members of eight political parties presented their anti-corruption strategies.

Candidates of eight political parties in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia’s larger entity, called for faster and more agile prosecution of corruption cases during a public debate held in Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo.

“I ask all actors to process corruption more effectively,” said Alma Colo, from the [Bosniak] Party of Democratic Action, SDA, adding that “they haven’t done much” at state level, citing the blockade of state institutions as the reason. “It’s a captive system that works that way,” she added.

“On average, it takes about four years of pre-investigative actions before an indictment,” noted Sanela Prasovic-Gadzo from the Union for Better Future, SBB, commenting on the slow steps taken to process corruption cases.

One issue mentioned during the debate was [lack of] transparency in public spending, which weakens citizens’ trust in government.

An improvement to the law on public procurements, and the law on conflict of interest, which is not being implemented in the Federation, were mentioned as possible solutions, reducing corruption in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Damir Masic, from the Social Democratic Party, SDP, said that 90 per cent of all problems in the country were caused by “people who are not able to explain the origin of their property”.

The second public debate organised by BIRN and TI will be held on September 19 in Banja Luka, the main city of Republika Srpska, Bosnia’s other entity, where party representatives will talk about their plans for the upcoming term. General elections in Bosnia are scheduled for October 2.

BIRN BiH Receives Certificate of Appreciation from Sarajevo Canton’s Memorial Fund

Marking its 25th anniversary, the Memorial Fund presented BIRN BiH with a certificate of appreciation for its contribution toward raising awareness about the importance of the culture of memory.

During a ceremony held on Monday, July 25 associations, individuals and institutions, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina, were presented with certificates of appreciation for successful cooperation.

Denis Dzidic, executive director of BIRN BiH, said the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network had systematically followed all war crimes trials and reported on transitional justice processes in the region for nearly 20 years.

He added that, in the past few years, BIRN BiH has given away its archive of reports from trials and video materials about the massacre at Kapija to the city of Tuzla for the needs of a museum exhibition and, jointly with the Memorial Center in Srebrenica, had opened a memorial room called “The Lives behind the Fields of Death”.

“We are particularly proud because institutions dealing with the culture of memory recognize us as a valuable partner and we hope that BIRN BiH’s content will reach out to as many young people as possible and be used for educational purposes in order to stand ready to counter revisionism and denial of crimes committed during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Dzidic said.

In May this year, BIRN BiH and the Sarajevo Canton’s Memorial Fund signed a Partnership Memorandum on the basis of which the content of a database of judicially established facts, being developed within a project titled “Establishing an Interactive Educational Database on the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina” financed by the United Nations Democracy Fund, UNDEF, was disposed to the Fund.

Besides the database content, BIRN BiH also made available the complete content of a video series, “44 – Months under Siege”, containing video testimonials by Sarajevo citizens who survived the siege.

Amer Osmic, representative of the Management Board, said that the Memorial Fund was a unique institution in Bosnia with a special role in society, uniting numerous institutions and organizations in the fight to maintain awareness about the importance of the culture of memory.

“The Sarajevo Canton’s Memorial Fund has invested a huge effort during the past two years into becoming an institution which strengthens the importance of memorialization through teamwork and synergy of forces, especially in a society in which one of the gravest forms of crimes that humankind can remember – the crime of genocide – was committed in a planned and premeditated manner, in addition to ethnic cleansing and siege endured by this city,” Osmic said.

The Fund, established in 1997 by the Sarajevo Cantonal Assembly, now manages, among others, the “Tunnel D-B” Memorial Complex, also known as the “Tunnel of Life”.

World Press Freedom Day Marked in Bosnia with Exhibition, Discussion

Media and watchdog organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina have exposed numerous scandals that have never been prosecuted, as evidenced by many investigative pieces put on display at an exhibition in Reporters’ House, Sarajevo.

Journalists and their investigative pieces, as well as their media outlets, are often subjected to hate narratives, participants in a panel said on, “How to Protect the Truth in the Time of Disinformation?” held in Sarajevo on World Press Freedom Day.

The panel discussion was organized by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN BiH, the Center for Investigative Reporting, CIN, BUKA magazine and the Swedish embassy to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Swedish ambassador to Bosnia Johanna Strömquist said that disinformation affected the media in many ways, adding that the current media threats include a shrinking of the democratic space, financing of the media and disinformation.
Attacks on both men and women journalists, as well as the media outlets for which they work, following publication of their articles, are common in Bosnia, and hate narratives of politicians have almost become mainstream, said BIRN BiH director Denis Dzidic.

“We see examples of the strongest investigations that do not result in what they should result in, but in polarization, which comes down to political ‘bullets’ – and that is a problem we cannot get out of,” Dzidic said.

CIN director Leila Bicakcic shared a similar view, adding that political leaders distribute the information that suits their political agendas, and, owing to a segmented public space, citizens continue to move away from each other on ethnic grounds.

“Political leaders should be sanctioned for their half-truths, because everything else will have no effect, given that we’ll just be addressing the consequences rather than the cause of the problem,” she said.

Aleksandar Trifunovic, editor-in-chief of BUKA, said the media outlet he represented had extensive experience of disinformation, recalling that some years ago the main Bosnian Serb party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, published a book listing BUKA as one of the enemies of the Bosnia’s mainly Serb entity, Republika Srpska.

“We won a court case against the publisher but the publication is still available to public,” Trifunovic noted, adding that Bosnia was fertile ground for disinformation and hate speech.

The exhibition, “30 Years of Exposure, no Consequences”, which opened before the panel discussion, displayed investigative pieces by journalists of BIRN BiH, CIN, Transparency International in Bosnia and Herzegovina, TI BiH, Kapital, Fokus and Buka – none of which prompted reactions from prosecutors’ offices or other investigative institutions.

“TI BiH filed criminal reports based on investigative pieces, its own cases and audit findings, but there was either no reaction, or a farce,” said Srdjan Traljic of TI BiH.

 

BIRN Journalist Wins Second Prize in Fetisov Journalism Awards

Haris Rovcanin has won second prize in the 2021 Fetisov Journalism Awards in the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Peace’ category.

Haris Rovcanin, a journalist with BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina, won second prize in the Fetisov Journalism Awards for a four-piece series of articles – two of which he co-authored together with Albina Sorguc, who was a member of BIRN team at the time of their publication.

The awarded pieces comprised two investigative pieces about individuals not prosecuted for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in eastern Bosnia, “Bosnian Serb Police Chiefs Never Charged with Srebrenica Killings”, and “Serb Chetnik’s Links to War Criminals and Extremists Uncovered”, a feature, “28 Years on, Families still Searching for Missing Bosnian Soldiers”, and an analysis piece, “BIRN Fact Check: Is the Bosnian Serb Report on the Sarajevo Siege Accurate?”.

During the awards ceremony, which was held online, it was announced that the winners had been chosen in troubled times, when the struggle continues around the world to combat injustice and strive for peace and reconciliation.

The winners were announced by Aidan White, honorary advisor to the Fetisov journalism awards and president of the Ethical Journalism Network, in a video posted on social networks.

“These winning stories demonstrate why truth-telling journalism is important to all of us. We congratulate them. They have done good work and they’ve made difference to people’s lives,” White said.

Rovcanin said the award means a lot to him as an incentive for his future work.

“The award for international contribution to peace certainly means a lot to me, especially as a great incentive for my career and continuation of successful work,” Rovcanin said, adding that BIRN has been awarded for its high-quality and dedicated work.

Other winners in the same category include Syrian-Swedish duo Ali Al Ibrahim and Khalifa Al Khuder, for their story, “Syria’s Sinister Yet Lucrative Trade in Dead Bodies” and Olatunji Ololade from Nigeria, for “The Boys Who Swapped Football for Bullets”.

The Fetisov awards, founded by Russian businessman and philanthropist Gleb Fetisov, promote universal human values such as honour, justice, courage and nobility through the example of outstanding journalists from all over the world, for “their service and commitment contribute to changing the world for the better”.

The “Outstanding Contribution to Peace” category recognises articles on anti-war topics that have made an important contribution to peace-making and to spreading the concept of human life as the highest value.

Nominated pieces focus on issues of international disarmament, the reduction or ending of national or international conflicts, support for national and international peace-keeping communities.

The three other categories are “Contribution to Civil Rights”, “Outstanding Investigative Reporting” and “Excellence in Environmental Journalism”.

This year, just under 400 entries from 80 countries around the globe were submitted and 13 winners were selected in the four categories.

This year’s jury consisted of Ann Cooper and Bruce Shapiro from the US, Barbara Trifonfi from Austria, Christophe Deloire from France, Christopher Warren and Julianne Schultz from Australia, Eva Markaceva from Russia, Kaarle Nordenstreng from Finland, Mariana Santos from Portugal/Brazil, Nikos Panagiotou from Greece and Ricardo Gutierrez from Belgium.

Former BIRN Bosnia journalist Sorguc was also shortlisted alongside Emina Dizdarevic for the Fetisov Award in 2019 in the “Outstanding Contribution to Peace” category for a series of articles on war crimes and transitional justice.

 

 

BIRN Presents Database as Tool to Educate and Counter Revisionism

Marking the 30th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo, a new BIRN online project features the video testimonials of 44 people – one for each month of the military blockade – recalling wartime hardships, atrocities and brief moments of joy.

BIRN presented a panel discussion on the topic, “No Room for Adjudicated Facts in School Curricula”, presenting part of its database of facts related to the 1992-5 siege of Sarajevo that has been established in or by verdicts of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

Besides besieged Sarajevo, other parts of the city that were under the control of the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, including Grbavica, Vraca and Nedzarici, as well as Sarajevo municipalities Ilidza, Hadzici, Vogosca and Ilijas, have also been covered, to include places where civilians were held and killed, demolitions and pillaging of property, and other crimes committed in the areas of Pale and Sokolac.

BIRN journalist Haris Rovcanin, who is working on creating the database, said Sarajevo and its surroundings were the first regions to be presented, symbolically, as that siege began 30 years ago, in April 1992. The term “siege”, he explained, is used in court verdicts and the fact that Sarajevo was under siege during the war represents one of the adjudicated facts.

“We have created a database containing some of the fundamental court conclusions referring to the sniping and deliberate shelling campaigns and unselective and direct attacks targeting the civilian population, as well as the fact that no parts of the city were safe from shelling from positions held by the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army, as determined in verdicts, and that civilians were targeted while fetching water, walking in the city and using public transportation, especially trams,” Rovcanin said.

BIRN’s local director Denis Dzidic said the development of the multimedia database of court-established facts was of extreme importance for learning about the past and as a tool for countering revisionist narratives and denial of genocide and war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“We are witnesses to the politicization of history in Bosnia, which has been particularly pronounced in politicians’ public appearances in the pre-election period, but also in school curricula,” he said.

“Through the development of this database, we endeavour to counter-narratives that focus on divisions and denial, and develop a unique multimedia platform which can serve teachers, students and all those interested in adjudicated facts,” Dzidic said.

Sniping and shelling incidents, as they are called in verdicts, for which it was determined with certainty that fire was opened from positions held by the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, have been singled out and processed for the purpose of the database. So was the shelling with the use of modified air bombs in 1995, which, as Hague tribunal chambers established, were not suitable for hitting concrete targets.

According to Rovcanin, one of the goals of this database is to gather in one place all the crimes established by the Hague tribunal’s verdicts, but not naming concrete perpetrators. This is because in some cases trial chambers determined that crimes were committed at a certain location but lacked evidence to link and sentence the person on trial to those specific crimes.

Besides that, the goal of the database is to help future researchers, students and journalists find the basic information they need for their further work, but also to assist teachers and education ministries by supplying materials for school curricula and methodologies for teaching about the past war.

Historian Melisa Foric who worked on the educational tool in this database as an external contractor of BIRN, said the database of facts will offer an option for a quick search, check and use of facts and historical sources, which are an integral part of the verdicts pronounced by the ICTY.

“The model classes, which will be an integral part of the database, offer a possibility to analyse events in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995 on the basis of parts of testimonies by victims described in ICTY verdicts, and encourage students to present their personal conclusions vis-à-vis the content of verdicts,” he said.

“In particular, attention is drawn to the significance of personal testimonials made in the form of short videos to which school-age children are much more receptive in the process of understanding and learning,” Foric added.

According to her, through a multi-perspective approach and original materials, the database should facilitate an easier determination of the chronology of the war, enabling a clearer perception of a causal link between certain events and the responsibility of individuals for those events, as established by ICTY verdicts.

A senior human rights advisor in the Office of Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Agnes Picod, said this was very important for remembrance within Bosnia but also outside its borders, adding that education was the backbone of reconciliation.

She said the principle of impartiality had been very important in the work of the ICTY.

According to her, decisions rendered by ICTY and the International Court of Justice are based on evidence and witness testimonies, while convictions pertain to individuals.

“Verdicts establish an individual, not collective, criminal responsibility. They are for convicting individuals. ICTY verdicts contribute to the truth establishing process and have an essential role … [though] 26 years after the end of the war certain individuals continue to deny, minimize and negate the adjudicated facts,” Picod said.

Picod also said that education should be one of the pillars and paths through which reconciliation is spread. In her opinion, school curricula and textbooks lack impartiality, especially as regards conflict.

“When they mention criminal offences, they do not mention them as crimes against humanity or genocide. Schools and educational systems should not be exposed to political agendas,” Picod said.

Although the ICTY archive is available already, the platform of adjudicated facts offers an abbreviated and clear overview of the conclusions of ICTY verdicts to the broader public and teachers, as well as to creators of educational content related to topics about the 1992-95 war, enriched with original content that can be used in teaching, Foric said in conclusion.

Anisa Suceska, of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, and history professor Zijad Sehic also addressed the panel discussion.

By the end of the project, besides Sarajevo, the database will also contain facts on ten other regions, namely Eastern Herzegovina, Zenica Region, Central Bosnia, Doboj-Posavina Region, and Eastern Bosnia, Srebrenica, Herzegovina Region, Krajina and Bijeljina-Zvornik Region.

The database is implemented with support of the UN Democracy Fund, UNDEF.

Video Testimonials Tell Story of Sarajevo’s 44 Months Under Siege

Marking the 30th anniversary of the siege of Sarajevo, a new BIRN online project features the video testimonials of 44 people – one for each month of the military blockade – recalling wartime hardships, atrocities and brief moments of joy.

BIRN on Wednesday launched the ‘44 Months under Siege’ project, which features video interviews with 44 people who lived through the 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo, speaking about the dangers and deprivations of living under the longest military blockade of a capital city in recent times.

BIRN recorded interviews with journalists, doctors, teachers, artists, musicians, film-makers and other residents of the besieged city speaking about massacres, sniper attacks, shortages of food, water and power and the dangers of venturing out to find supplies, go to school or hold funerals during the sustained shelling of the city from April 1992 to the end of 1995.

“Focussing on individual testimonials is a unique and very striking way of telling a story about a city,” said Denis Dzidic, director of BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“This is definitely not a story about everything that Sarajevo’s residents experienced during the siege, but it is a portrait of some of the most vicious crimes, as well as the way in which ordinary citizens countered the terror,” he added.

Jasmin Begic, a journalist who worked on the project, said that most of the people who gave interviews had lost loved ones, been injured or survived attacks that have been documented in verdicts at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

“These testimonials show that civilians in Sarajevo, as stated in the verdicts, were targets of unselective attacks while standing in lines to buy bread and food at markets, and fetch water, as well as children who were killed at their school desks,” Begic said.

“The hardest part was talking to parents whose children were killed and who experienced these traumatic events all over again,” he added.

The videos are arranged chronologically on the page, starting from April 1992 to November 1995. The 45th video is about the importance of the end of the war.

The ‘44 Months under Siege’ project, which was created with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA, can be seen here.

 

BIRN Journalist Wins Fetisov International Award

BIRN’s Haris Rovcanin has won the Fetisov international award in the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Peace’ category for a series of four articles.

A series of four articles by Haria Rovcanin was awarded for their outstanding contribution to peace on February 10, when the Fetisov award organisers announced 13 winners in four categories. The awards ceremony takes place in Switzerland on April 22.

The winners were announced by Aidan White, Honorary Advisor to the Fetisov Journalism Award and President of the Ethical Journalism Network, in a video published on the Award’s social media.

White said the international jury had a record number of entries this year, and “has come up with a terrific selection of world-beating stories”.

“They provide us with a masterclass in stylish, fact-based, and courageous reporting,” White added, noting that the winners come from different backgrounds and different cultures, but all share a passion for truth-telling.

“Every story here is remarkable, and valuable in its own right. They are a shining example of committed and fearless journalism. Together these stories are a priceless body of evidence that journalism, despite all the pressures and threats that are facing news media, continues to make a difference in a global struggle for transparency, humanity and democracy,” White continued.

He said the organizers would announce the final line-up of first, second and third winners at the awards ceremony in April.

Four articles written by Rovcanin, two of which were co-written by Albina Sorguc, a member of BIRN BiH team at the time of publication, were selected as one of the three winners in the “Outstanding Contribution to Peace” category.

The series includes two investigative pieces, about individuals  not prosecuted for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, “Bosnian Serb Military Police Chiefs Never Charged with Srebrenica Killings, and “Serb Chetniks’ Links to War Criminals and Extremists Uncovered, as well as a feature, “28 Years on, Families still Searching for Missing Bosnian Soldiers and an analysis piece, “BIRN Fact Check: Is the Bosnian Serb Report on the Sarajevo Siege Accurate?

The Fetisov international award promotes universal human values through the example of outstanding journalists from all over the world, as “their service and commitment contribute to changing the world for the better”.

Other winners in the same category include Syrian-Swedish duo Ali Al Ibrahim and Khalifa Al Khuder’s story “Syria’s Sinister Yet Lucrative Trade in Dead Bodies” and Olatunji Ololade from Nigeria for ‘The Boys Who Swapped Football for Bullets”.

The “Outstanding Contribution to Peace” category recognises articles on anti-war topics that have made an important contribution to peace-making and to spreading the concept of human life as the highest value.

Nominated works focus on issues of international disarmament, reduction or ending of national or international conflicts, support for national and international peacekeeping communities.

The three other categories are “Contribution to Civil Rights”, “Outstanding Investigative Reporting” and “Excellence in Environmental Journalism”.  Three winners are announced in each of the categories.

This year, just under 400 entries from 80 countries around the globe were submitted and 13 winners were selected in the four categories. The Fetisov Journalism Award Expert Council selected 37 best stories from 34 countries for the shortlist, which included 17 collaborative works and 11 cross-border investigations.

As described on the award website, the annual contest aims to highlight the works of those journalists who bring up hot-button issues and have widespread impact, reward outstanding journalists with major money prizes for their dedicated work and help nominees and winners to achieve greater visibility by publishing their works on the website of the contest and in print media.

This year, the jury consisted of Ann Cooper and Bruce Shapiro from the US, Barbara Trifonfi from Austria, Christophe Deloire from France, Christopher Warren and Julianne Schultz from Australia, Eva Markaceva from Russia, Kaarle Nordenstreng from Finland, Mariana Santos from Portugal/Brazil, Nikos Panagiotou from Greece and Ricardo Gutierrez from Belgium.

Former BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina journalist Sorguc was also shortlisted alongside Emina Dizdarevic for the Fetisov Award in 2019 in the “Outstanding Contribution to Peace” category with a series of articles on war crimes and transitional justice.

Bosnia Prosecution Publishes Confirmed Indictments, Acting on BIRN Petition

Following a request by BIRN BiH for more transparency in the justice system, the State Prosecution has started publishing redacted factual descriptions from confirmed indictments on its website.

Bosnia’s state Prosecution late last year announced it would start publishing indictments after BIRN handed 5,000 signatures to the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council, HJPC, demanding more transparency in the judiciary.

Acting chief prosecutor Milanko Kajganic rendered and signed a binding instruction ensuring the publication from the start of this year of redacted factual descriptions from indictments it had issued.

At the time, he said that indictments, or their factual descriptions, would be published on confirmation of the indictments.

The Binding Instruction provided a detailed description of how the necessary anonymization and preparation for publication, as well as record-keeping of issued indictments, should be performed.

In mid-2021 BIRN began a campaign to collect signatures drawing attention to the issue of the unavailability of indictments and corruption verdicts, calling for better transparency in the work of Bosnia’s judicial institutions.

Through its project, Transparency against Corruption in Judiciary, BIRN encouraged citizens to become more involved and demand changes to the judicial system, as well as to develop awareness of the need to standardize document publication practices.

The focus was put on indictments for corruption and bad practices in the Bosnian judiciary in terms of transparency.

The project was implemented with financial support from the US Agency for International Development, USAID, and was part of a broader project, Assistance to Citizens in the Fight against Corruption, implemented by the Center of Civic Initiatives as the leading partner.

 

 

 

Workshop in Bosnia on Humanitarian Approaches to Reporting on Missing Persons

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.