Increased Transparency and Education Needed

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Journalists and representatives of judicial institutions in Trebinje, BiH are satisfied with their mutual co-operation, but they agree that it could be further improved by educating journalists on reporting court proceedings.

Also, representatives of judicial institutions agree that they should increase their transparency, by announcing information even if the particular pieces of information have not been requested by the media.

Bojan Stevic, President of the District Court in Trebinje, said that no regular press conferences were held, but he had a yearly meeting with journalists, at which they could receive an explanation of certain issues of which they had not been previously aware.

Despite the good collaboration, Stevic points out that journalists and editors should be further educated in order to be able to report from courts in a correct, objective and professional manner.

The District Court in Trebinje does not have a spokesperson, but an information officer who decides whether certain pieces of information will be distributed or not. The Court President explains that a judge, who, at the same time, is President of the Crime Section, addressed journalists in most cases, because he is the one having most pieces of information that can be shared with the public.

Journalists admit that they often fail to follow a proceeding to its very end, which means that they lacked consistency in sharing information. Considering the fact that they claim to have very good collaboration with the spokesperson of the Safety Service Station in Trebinje, they say that the sharing of information about a certain case or proceeding usually ends at that point.

They think that this is caused by the fact that war-crimes trials should be followed by journalists working with public broadcasting stations, rather than those employed with commercial stations. However, they do admit that citizens are certainly interested in war crimes trials, as well as other trials closely related to their local communities.

When it comes to the District Prosecution in Trebinje, journalists point out that they can obtain limited information, but they are aware of the fact that the Prosecution is conducting investigations, which they do not want to undermine. Having all this in mind, they consider their co-operation with the Secretary, who also acts as an information officer, good.

The workshop in Trebinje was held on November 13 with the aim of increasing transparency of judicial institutions and responsibility of the media. The workshop was organized by the Balkans Investigative Reporting Network in collaboration with the Association of Court Reporters with support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.