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BIRN –Justice Report – One Year of Truth

26. April 2007.00:00
On Monday April 2, 2007 BIRN's Justice Reported celebrated its first anniversary with an event in Sarajevo

This post is also available in: Bosnian

It is a pleasure to be able to mark the first year of BIRN’s youngest publication Justice Report with a raft of achievements – the biggest being that millions of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina but also further afield have had an opportunity to find out that impunity does not reign supreme in our country.

Justice Report has become much bigger than I originally envisaged it to be: a small team of five dedicated girls has filed over 500 stories from the courtrooms of the State Court and then some from across Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, covering every aspect of the transitional justice process through which our country is going.

The growing popularity of our service has silenced the sceptics, who, in 2005, as the Court of BiH prepared to try the first of many war crimes indictees, said no-one would want to read about it. Over a thousand republications in the local and regional media,hundreds of interviews given and over a million visitors to www.bim.ba show the opposite – that justice is still very much in the hearts and minds of our citizens, both here and those scattered across the world.

Reporting Justice has brought recognition for BIRN team members as well – The Last Taboo, a harrowing account by Nidzara Ahmetasevic of the sexual abuse of men incarcerated in war-time camps, brought us the prestigious award of Claudio Accardi. But even more importantly, it brought direct results for the male victims, who, for the first time since the end of the war, registered with the Women Victims of War association – the only which gathers rape victims from throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Each of the scores of letters we receive from readers, victims and survivors of some of the most heinous crimes that can be committed are an award in themselves. These people seek justice,and if there is a system in the country working full steam ahead to deliver just that, then they should not be denied knowledge of it.

Now, with the imminent launch of Justice Radio, we hope to widen our reach in local communities.

A lot can be learnt from BiH’s unfortunate experiences both during and after the war. And if lessons learnt the hard way here can cushion the pain in other parts of the world, then we should work on transferring that knowledge too. This is why our pilot project in Uganda earlier this year marks the beginning of the development of BIRN Justice Africa.

None of this would have been possible without the heroic dedication and hard work of BIRN’s past and present staff, and I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to them all. The editor sand journalists from local and regional media who offer our stories to their consumers, and citizens associations which widen the reach of information provided by us, are far too many to mention by name – and we remain indebted to each and every one of them. The understanding and support offered by the staff of the Court and Prosecution of BiH deserves to be singled out.

Of course, Justice Report would not be where it is now were it not for the trust placed in the idea by our supporters: the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Swiss and Norwegian foreign ministries and embassies, the Soros Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation to whom we extend our heartfelt gratitude.

The path to justice is long and hard and I hope we will all stay the course together.

Nerma Jelacic, BIRN BiH Director, [email protected]

    Nerma Jelačić

    This post is also available in: Bosnian