New Obstacles

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The Association of Court Reporters, AIS, held a meeting on June 16 at which journalists discussed the removal of indictments from the official web pages of the State Court and its Prosecution.

Erna Mackic informed participants about her conversation with Manuela Hodzic of the Public Relations Section with the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ms Hodzic explained that all indictments were removed from the Court’s web page following an objection from the Agency for the Protection of Personal Data.

Hodzic said the Agency had ordered the removal of indictments, as their publication violated the right of indictes to protection of their personal data, including their first and last names.

Mackic said that, in addition to indictments, the Court would have to remove first and second instance verdicts from its web page, following a request from the Agency for the Protection of Personal Data.

The AIS representatives agreed to lobby publicly for the Agency to change its decision, because depriving journalists of information contained in indictments makes it impossible for them to report comprehensively on the work of judicial institutions, while the general public, which is displaying an interest in following war-crimes trials, is also deprived of information.

The BIRN journalists agreed to contact all relevant actors, including the international community and the Hague Tribunal, and raise the issue of removal of indictments, which should be considered as public documents.

Once it has received necessary information, AIS will prepare an announcement and organize the signing of a petition to have indictments uploaded on the web pages again.

At the AIS meeting Mackic informed participants that she had given a lecture at a conference on “Judiciary and the Media”, organized by the Press Council in late May. Conference participants included journalists, judges and prosecutors from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska and Brcko District. There was consensus at the conference that stakeholders have not received sufficient guidance on how to establish successful cooperation with the media.

Mackic cited concrete examples of problems facing journalists in their cooperation with local community judges, prosecutors and spokespersons, and the AIS representatives concluded that in light of this the local community educational model that was initiated a year ago should be continued.

Building on past experience, AIS representatives intend to organize training sessions for judges, prosecutors and journalists, followed by a joint meeting in order to try to solve problems that have been identified.

The AIS meeting was attended by Erna Mackic, Anisa Suceska-Vekic, Jasmina Djikoli, Merima Husejnovic, Dragana Erjavec, Dalio Sijah, Marija Tausan, Albina Sorguc and Velma Saric.