BIRN Holds Transitional Justice Training in Sarajevo

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BIRN Hub opened a two-day training course on transitional justice reporting for 23 journalists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia.


The two-day training course began in Sarajevo on Thursday with the aim of introducing the 23 reporters to the topic of transitional justice from a journalistic perspective and deepening their knowledge of war crimes trials and related issues.

The training started with a regional conference entitled ‘War Crimes Proceedings and Regional Cooperation’ which gathered prosecutors, experts and journalists from across the former Yugoslavia.

Journalists had the chance to watch a debate which was also addressed by representatives from the OSCE, the EU-rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The prosecutors talked about challenges to war crimes prosecutions in the Balkans, particularly in light of the ICTY closing its doors next year.

The training continued with an afternoon session which hosted Kevin Hughes, legal adviser to the chief prosecutor at the ICTY, who gave an overview of international courts and tribunals as well as the ICTY’s achievements and legacy.

Sven Milekic, a journalist from Croatia who works on BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice project, outlined the concept of transitional justice as well as the role of journalists in war crimes trials.

Denis Dzidic, a journalist from Bosnia and Herzegovina who works on BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice project, gave an insight to transitional justice resources for journalists as well as looking at the obstacles facing transitional justice reporters and how to deal with them.  

Dzidic then gave an overview of war crimes trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina together with Ivan Jovanovic, an international humanitarian law expert who gave an overview of war crimes trials in Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

As part of the training session, BIRN launched its War Crimes Verdicts Map – an interactive tool intended to provide an overview of court rulings on the crimes that were committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Comprising a total of 386 verdicts, it represents a unique database of publicly-available final judgements issued by national courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.

It also includes verdicts handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

On the second day of the training course, the journalists visited the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they had a guided tour and attended a war crime case hearing at which the closing arguments were given by the state prosecutor.

After the visit to the court, the group was given a presentation at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s Liaison Office in Sarajevo by the office representative, Almir Alic.

At the afternoon session, the journalists met with Boris Grubesic, the head of the Public Relations Department at the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Murat Tahirovic, president of the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide, and Lejla Softic from the International Commission on Missing Persons.

BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina journalists Erna Mackic and Marija Tausan then gave a presentation about the challenges and pitfalls of court reporting.

The conference and the training session are part of BIRN’s Balkan Transitional Justice initiative, funded by the European Commission, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

The project aims to improve the general public’s understanding of transitional justice issues in former Yugoslav countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

To find out more about the conference: