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BIRN BiH Directors' Speech on the Fifth Annyversary

BIRN BIH marked its fifth anniversary on Thursday May 27 and promoted its new publication 'Time for truth – Review of the work of War Crime Chamber of the Court of BIH'.

At this occasion Anisa Sućeska Vekić, director of BIRN BIH director spoke to a large number of present guests.  Her speech is reproduced below:

Dear ladies and gentleman, your excellences, dear ambassador Braathu, dear colleagues,

It is my great honour and pleasure to wish you a welcome in behalf of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. BIRN is proud to mark today the 5th anniversary of its work.

We started our work in 2005 as a small group of enthusiasts who believed that truth is the only way toward trust and reconciliation in our country. The establishment of the War Crime Chamber of the Court of BIH represented for us the call to join those who search for truth on daily basis. From this belief and deep conviction we started the Justice Report – a specialised agency for reporting on war crimes trial held in local judicial institutions.

Since march 2006 until now, BIRN journalists followed every trial in front of the War Crime Chamber of the State Court, wrote over 8000 daily reports, analysis and investigative reports. Our reports publicly raised questions about war crime trials, judicial reform and coming to terms with the past. 

Numerous international organizations, like Human Rights Watch, HRW, and Amnesty International, AI, cited Justice Report’s articles in their reports and research.

In the first few months we had more then ten thousand readers. Until now, this number has been increasing on daily basis. Apart from having readers of our internet portal in the country, region and Diaspora, we know that some organisations in Prijedor and Bratunac have been printing those reports and distributing them to their citizens. The interest of our readers has been our biggest award.

In order to reach the larger groups of citizens, in mid 2007, BIRN BH initiated Radio Justice – written reports transferred to the audio form. Radio Justice is broadcast by 148 radio stations. Apart from daily production, Radio Justice also produces a ten-minute weekly magazine with analytical focus on the work of local judiciary.

Based on daily demand of our readers and listeners, in December 2009 BIRN started TV Justice – a 30-minute magazine that offers information on war crimes trials processed in our country,  but also to show the places, people, stories and events which make the process of facing with the past closer to ordinary citizens.

Public broadcast services along with 15 TV stations broadcast this programme on their local and satellite channels.

During the past five years BIRN BiH has paid special attention to training journalists and media outlets on war-crimes trials reporting and organized a number of seminars, at the local and regional level, on transparency of judiciary and responsibility of the media.

With an aim of ensuring a better flow of information between the judicial institutions and the media, and, consequently, the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, BIRN initiated the establishment of the Association of Court Reporters, AIS, and has coordinated its activities over the past five years. The Association members include journalists working with electronic and print media from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who follow war-crimes trials conducted before domestic courts.

We are proud to say that we also mark today the fifth anniversary of its existence and activism in the field of advocacy for highest journalistic standards and transparency of judiciary.

In previous period we published a number of publictaions written by our journalists. Two editions of the guide ‘In Pursuit of Justice’ are among the most important, as well as the publication ‘History overshadowed with trivia’ – the analysis of the media reporting in the region on the arrest of Radovan Karadzic.

Tonight is our special honour to present the most important publication we published until now: ‘Time for truth’ – Review of the work of war Crime Chamber of the Court of BH in the period 2005-2010.

I hope that enormous effort we made in trying to present to the public the importance of this institutions work, will be useful to the current and future generations – those who will research on on war crimes proceedings in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I would like to use this occasion to thank all our readers, listeners and viewers on their letter of support. I would like to thank to President Kreso, State Prosecutor Barasin, to all judges and prosecutors of the War Crime Chamber of the State Court and Prosecution and  the staff of press offices for their cooperation.

Thank you to colleagues journalists for ensuring that our work reach citizens trough their media. We owe enormous gratitude to the victims associations and NGOs for their support, cooperation and eternal patience in the past period.

Special gratitude is reserved for our donors that generously supported BIRN to implement its goal and develop its capacities: Governments of Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Great Britain, SOROS foundation, NED, OSCE Mission in BH, and our partner Konrad Adenauer Foundation.

I would like to thank the regional BIRN network for their support on daily basis and to all members of AIS for their unbelievable commitment.

However, the greatest gratitude and enormous respect I dedicate to my colleagues from BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina – to the young people that on daily basis bravely live the truth trough their Justice Report.

Our team will continue to be the ‘ light keeper’ as we were called recently in one of the international reports.

I hope that you will stay with us and help us to light the road toward truth and justice.

Thank you.

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