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20 April 2012

Bijeljina: Common Rules Needed

The Balkans Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in collaboration with the Association of Prosecutors of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, organzied a meeting between judicial institutions from Bijeljina and Tuzla area, the media and NGOs on April 12 this year.

During the meeting it was concluded that common rules, to be used by judicial institutions, concerning the anonymization of indictments and verdicts should be created in order to enable the general public to get timely and objective information.

Representatives of NGOs and the media agree that changes and amendments to the Law on Protection of Personal Data of Bosnia and Herzegovina should be requested in order to enable the establishment of the common rules.

Judicial institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have begun implementing an opinion by the Agency for Protection of Personal Data of Bosnia and Herzegovina, anonymizing data about indictees and all other persons mentioned in indictments. As no common stand on the issue exists, some judicial institutions anonymize names of municipalities, crime locations and names of institutions as well.

The meeting participants agreed that both judicial institutions and journalists should be educated, so the institutions would know what type of information could be disclosed in public and journalists would respect professional and ethical standards.

Also, representatives of judicial institutions agreed to use “simpler terms, instead of legal terms”, in announcements and public statements in order to make them more comprehensible to citizens.

The participants from the Bijeljina and Tuzla area agreed that leaking of information from investigative and judicial institutions should be disabled, because it could jeopardize investigations and court proceedings.

The workshop held in Bijeljina was organized as part of a joint project implemented by BIRN BiH and the Association of Prosecutors of FBiH, with financial support from USAID's Judicial Sector Development Projects, JSDP II.
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