BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina Expands in its Seventh Year

30. December 2011.00:00
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) achieved outstanding results in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2011, continuing to provide information and analysis to the media, victims, and the general public on war crimes trials and efforts to deal with the past in Bosnia and the region.

In its seventh year of work, BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) published over 3,500 articles, interviews and analyses on war crimes trials in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the region and The Hague, but also about the reconciliation process, the search for missing persons and the rights of former detainees and families of war victims. The articles were published in the languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina and in English. BIRN BiH increased its output significantly in 2011, publishing 40 per cent more articles compared to 2010, when it released some 2,400.A similar increase can also be seen in the number of republications of BIRN BiH articles and analysis pieces in local and regional media this year. Media in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkans continued to republish BIRN articles, resulting in more than eight thousand republications in 2011, or double the number republished the previous year.The project “Local Justice under the Spotlight” – through which BIRN BiH employs ten journalists from different cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, experienced great success in 2011. The programme, which follows war crimes cases in Bosnia’s district and cantonal courts and the Brcko District Court, was launched last year.More than 220 articles written by the locally-based journalists were published on the web page of BIRN BiH ( in 2011, which is an increase of 200 percent compared to last year, when about 70 articles was published.The analysis and investigative reporting produced by BIRN BiH journalists was widely followed over the past year. Particular interest was shown in stories about the suffering of civilians in Srebrenica, Visegrad and Rogatica during the war, as well as about the child-victims of war, some of whom continue to experience great difficulties.BIRN BiH published more than 40 analysis pieces in 2011, on topics ranging from the right to a fair trial, the construction of a state prison, the reparation rights of prisoners and victims of war, and the problems in implementing the National Strategy for Processing of War Crimes Cases.Over the past year, BIRN journalists wrote about women war crimes suspects, as well as about the decision of the United Nations to establish a residual mechanism after the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, completes its mandate.When Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, the two remaining ICTY indictees, were finally arrested this year, BIRN published more than 50 articles regarding their capture and extradition to The Hague. The news and analysis looked at where they were hiding, their indictments, as well as the victims who await justice.The Importance of BIRN’s Work for VictimsA number of letters and comments on BIRN BiH articles received over the past year show the importance of our work for victims of war crimes. The comment below was written by Saja Coric, a former detainee in detention camp “Vojno”, near Mostar.“Congratulations to BIRN again; on your site we can find everything that is important for victims of the past war. You are just as important in the Bosnia and Herzegovina media landscape as the judiciary institutions, the Prosecution and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”Murat Tahirovic, president of the Association of Detainees of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that BIRN is “a synonym for the reporting of war crimes trials, which is invaluable for former detainees.”“We, the former prisoners, constantly monitor those trials and all of us are interested in the area where we were detained. Of course, we do not have the capacities that you have and that is why it really means a lot for us that we can get all the information we need in one place, and that information is always very objective,” said Tahirovic.In addition to court reports, over the last 12 months BIRN BiH published several interviews with key figures in Bosnia’s judicial system, including Barisa Colak, Minister of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Milorad Novkovic, President of the High Jud