Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN B&H) has launched a series of new projects in 2010, by which it intensified the work on informing the public about the war crimes trials, and thus achieved significant results in the sixth year of its existence
The largest part of our work in 2010 was dedicated to reporting on trials for war crimes, judiciary issues and the dealing with the past.
In 2010, we have published more than 1,200 articles – reports from trials that were taking place before local and international courts, and also the analysis on various topics related to war crimes. We have also registered over 4,300 republications of our reports and analysis in various media in Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond.
The BIRN B&H has achieved the largest number of republications in this year with the interview we did with Radovan Karadzic, former President of Republic of Srpska, who is accused of crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and his trial is currently ongoing before The Hague Tribunal.
The BIRN B&H is the first media organization in region that did an interview with Karadzic, and we published it on December 20, 2010. The interview is republished in all major media in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. Interview with Karadzic is carried over by more than 80 media organizations, both in domestic and English language.
Journalists of BIRN B&H continuously monitor the Karadzic’s trial which still attracts a major attention of public in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Peter Robinson, Radovan Karadzic’s Legal Advisor, emphasizes that our reports from the trial before The Hague Tribunal are “balanced and fair”.
“I am a regular reader of your web site and I appreciate your efforts in providing unbiased monitoring of Radovan Karadzic’s trial. Your reports are always correct, and I hope that the interview will be of help to you and your readers”, says Robinson.
In 2010, BIRN has launched 30-minute monthly television show TV Justice in order to inform as many citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina as possible on war crimes, and to point out to the problems that arise in the prosecution of those responsible for grave violations of human rights.
Each month from January 2010, a total of 11 television stations transmitted TV Justice, which provides an overview of the trials before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina War Crimes Chamber, interviews with relevant representatives of the judiciary and non-governmental organizations, and report on crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the opinions of citizens from different parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the war crimes.
Some of the interviews were conducted with Meddzida Kreso, president of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Barasin, Chief Prosecutor of Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Patrick Robinson, President of The Hague Tribunal.
Among the television stations that have recognized the importance of reporting on war crimes, and problems faced by victims and judiciary, is the Radio-Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT), which obtained the exclusive broadcast rights for TV Justice.
„We express our satisfaction with the cooperation on an important project of monitoring war crimes trials before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, moreover, because these topics are still painful, and because the trials or the indictments cause political commentaries. In addition, you have done your job correctly and professionally without single error or complaint from our viewers“, said Damir Simic, editor of BHRT.
TV Justice has caused special attention of public when we interviewed Gojko Jankovic, who is sentenced by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to 34 years imprisonment for crimes committed in Foca. The interview is recorded in Foca’s Department of Corrections (KPD), where he is serving his prison sentence.
In October this year, BIRN has expanded its activities to the local level by engaging correspondents from Bihac, Brcko, Banja Luka, Tuzla, Zenica, Doboj, Mostar, Bijeljina, Trebinje, Sarajevo and East Sarajevo.
During their three months of work, we have published over 70 articles and analysis, and three radio shows dedicated to the trials and war crimes that were committed in those cities.
We decided to take this step because we recognized the importance of reporting of trials that are taking place at the entity levels and the Brcko District, to which the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not paying enough attention.
This year, the BIRN B&H also continued to work on the project of Local Justice under Spotlight, where through analysis and researches we have brought a cross-section of the work of the judiciary at the entity level and the Brcko District, and we will continue with the project in 2011.
In August 2010, we marked the anniversary of the first broadcast of Radio Justice Report Magazine, a ten-minute radio show in which we review the major weekly events before the Chamber for War Crimes, analysis and announcement of next week events.
Radio Justice Report is broadcast by more than 100 radio stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and among them is Radio of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
„Your magazine is an excellent supplement to information, reports and issues that we publish in our shows. (…) Your reports help us a lot in regularly and thoroughly informing listeners about this important aspect of our society“, says Suzana Djozo, editor of the News Program of Radio of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Besides the media, BIRN work is appreciated by victims of the last war who wrote us letters supporting our survival because we are the only ones who continually enable them to monitor war crimes trials.
„For the umpteenth time we send you our sincere congratulations for the successful work with the wish for survival of this important and significant organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With your projects, you ensure for us the continuity of monitoring the trials and precise information, especially to the victims who are certainly the most interested in the work of judicial institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the responsibility of perpetrators of war crimes. We want you to remain what you are, independent, impartial and objective“, it is stated in the letter sent by the Center of Victims from Military Camp Vojno near Mostar.
In late May 2010, BIRN has released the publication ‘Age of Truth’ which represents overview of the work of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Chamber for War Crimes since 2005 to 2010.
The publication contains basic information on all cases that are ongoing or are completed, and also on the trials that have not yet begun, as well as on the plea agreements.
In 2010, in addition to reporting on war crimes, BIRN also participated in the work of the Association of Reporters from the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AIS), whose aim is to improve cooperation between the media and the judiciary.
After the BIRN published an article regarding the withdrawal of indictments and convictions from the web site of the Court and Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was done following the decision of the Agency for Protection of Personal Data in Bosnia and Herzegovina by which the information about the accused must be withdrawn from these documents, the representatives of the AIS reacted, pointing out that in such a way “the journalists are prevented to do their job” and informing the public.
As it was decided at the last meeting of AIS members, in early 2011 they plan to hold a meeting with representatives of the judicial institutions in an attempt to fully resolve this problem.
In 2010, the work of the BIRN B&H is supported the governments of Norway, Britain and Switzerland, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Soros Foundation, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID.
Aida Alić is a journalist with BIRN – Justice Report. [email protected] Justice Report is one of BIRN’s weekly online publications