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07 March 2012

Doboj: Improvement of Cooperation

The Balkans Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Association of Court Reporters, AIS hold a meeting with representatives of judicial and police institutions from the Doboj and Zenica area, as well as media, international organizations and associations.

The goal of the meeting, which was held in Doboj on February 29, was to establish better communication between journalists and institutions with the aim of increasing transparency of work of judicial bodies and responsibility of the media, reporting about court processes.

Among other things, the media representatives said that, in some cases, they had to wait too long in order to receive complete information, that institutions informed the public about their activities with delay and that they faced obstacles when trying to obtain courtroom recordings due to formal deadlines.

Bojana Jovanovic of the OSCE, which monitors court processes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that journalists sometimes violated the Code of Ethics when reporting on trials, in which victims were minors, and that they were inclined to sensationalistic reporting.

Redzo Delic, Deputy Chief Prosecutor of the Zenica-Doboj Canton, said that the Prosecution had a spokesperson, who was in charge of informing the public, and that representatives of the Office held annual press conferences in order to inform the public on its work results.

“It is hard to conciliate the interests of media and prosecutors. There is a huge hunger for information, particularly sensationalism. No journalists have complained about problems with obtaining information so far. When it comes to information about suspects, who are subjects of investigations, we cannot provide this type of information. When we file an indictment, we inform the public about it through our web page,” Delic said.

Mehmedalija Alicic, Assistant Commander of the Police Station in Doboj-Jug, Zenica-Doboj Canton, said that police issued daily bulletins, containing information about key events. He said that spokespersons of police commissioners and the Minister of Internal Affairs of this Canton were responsible for offering detailed information.

As he said, it happens that, due to the fact that they contain incomplete information, some media reports convey a distorted image about the work of police.

In order to overcome the said problems related to communication between the media and judicial institutions, the institutions should be more proactive in informing the public about their activities and regularly update their web page, so it contains information about trials schedule, among other things.

The participants agreed that representatives of the institutions should hold press conferences more often, particularly in case there is a big public interest in certain events, and submit public announcements to as many media stations as possible.

In addition, it was said during the meeting that journalists should be additionally trained to report on court proceedings and that the media should be particularly careful when it comes to the rights of minors and victims.

The meeting in Doboj was organized within a joint project implemented by BIRN BiH and the Association of Prosecutors of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the financial support from USAID's Judicial Sector Development Project, JSDP II.

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