Erna Mackic, AIS Coordinator, made a presentation of AIS’ activities during the past year and results achieved. Mackic said that the removal of indictments from judicial institutions’ web pages was one of the biggest obstacles faced by AIS over the past year.
The meeting participants stressed the problem related to fact that neither the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina not other courts in the country held regular press conferences. The restricted issuance of photographs during the entire course of court proceedings was mentioned as another issue posing limitations on reporting from courts.
Considering the fact that AIS members held a series of workshops and roundtables on transparency of judiciary and responsibility of the media reporting from courts during 2011, they shared their experiences with other AIS members, saying that, at all those workshops judicial representatives demonstrated readiness to cooperate with the media.
On the basis of experiences from those workshops, it was concluded that the lack of transparency of judicial institutions arose from their fear of potential mistakes in publishing the information they offered to the media. In that sense, all AIS members agreed that the dialogue should be continued by all means and that further efforts had to be invested in training journalists on reporting from courts.
When it comes to general cooperation with prosecutors’ offices, the AIS members agreed that they often gave generalized statements to the media, without providing them with any new pieces of information. The participants concluded that, due to this reason, the media turned to other sources of information, which were not always correct and lead to mistakes in their reports.
In AIS members’ opinion, the establishment of public relations services or appointment of spokespersons with judicial institutions will not only improve and facilitate the work of the media, but also improve the work of the judicial institutions, as well as judges and prosecutors as individuals.
The second part of the meeting was dedicated to making a plan of activities for next year. The recommendations and conclusions related to activities to be undertaken next year indicate that there is a need to improve objective reporting from cantonal and district courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was noted that few journalists reported from those courts, which leads to a low level of information among the general public. Therefore, the training of journalists on court reporting should be continued.
In addition, the AIS members concluded that meetings with media editors were needed, because the lack of interest in the work of the judiciary often came as a result of editorial policies.
The AIS Coordinator said that the training of journalists in collaboration with the OSCE office in Serbia, which would include a training of journalists from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia at The Hague, was one of the most important activities.
Over the past two years AIS has had lectures for students at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the Sarajevo University. The experiences derived from those lectures demonstrated that students knew very little or nothing about the work of the judiciary. For this reason, the AIS members concluded that the practice should be continued and that similar lectures should be held not only at the Sarajevo University, but also in other towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Finally, the AIS members agreed that they would hold a total of six lectures for students during 2012.