The Balkan Transitional Justice initiative is a regional initiative funded by the European Commission, the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office FCO that aims to improve the general public’s understanding of transitional justice issues in former Yugoslav countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia).
The project will also improve the quality of regional media through publishing and broadcasting balanced reports by its six locally-based specialist journalists - the Transitional Justice Regional Journalistic Team.
The project consists of online news reports published on the Balkan Transitional Justice website covering local issues related to war crimes. Reports will be available in four languages: English, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Montenegrin, Albanian and Macedonian.
Radio Roads to Justice provides monthly reports in three languages (Albanian, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Montenegrin and Macedonian) and Transitional Justice TV series and film will be a series of six documentaries and one film tracking the investigative work of the journalistic team.
The Balkan Transitional Justice project thus ensures that the public in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro have free and open access to impartial news and analysis of regional transitional justice; the founding stone of any successful democracy, respect for the rule of law, human rights and sustainable peace in the region.
Coming to terms with the past is an unavoidable prerequisite if former Yugoslav republics are to build a stable and secure democratic future. The future of the post-Yugoslav region, and diplomatic relations between these nations, depends on how successfully local judicial institutions effectively and transparently tackle war crimes committed in the region; punishing the perpetrators and ensuring justice for victims.
Motivated by prospective membership of the European Union, a carrot accompanied by the stick of reform, and an expanding civil society sector, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo have begun dealing with the legacy of human rights abuses committed during the 1990s Yugoslav wars of succession.
At the moment, various processes related to transitional justice have been launched in the region, including national and local courts hearing war crimes trials and the promotion of a regional commission into war crimes and violations of human rights (the REKOM initiative) by local civil society groups. National war crimes prosecution strategies and restitutive measures are being discussed.
However, ordinary citizens remain excluded from these processes and uninformed about the progress of transitional justice, their rights and how they can take an active role in the process. Therefore, the Balkan Transitional Justice project bridges the gap between the state and the public by providing quality and objective information about transitional justice.
Accurate, truthful and professional reporting about war crimes is missing in the post-Yugoslav region, which creates a major obstacle to establishing the truth about the past and so moving forward to a secure future.
The Balkan Transitional Justice project thus ensures a regular and up-to-date flow of information about transitional justice in the region. The project also offers a database of issues related to war crimes, consisting of individual reports and articles in the first programme stage, audio reports in the second and TV documentaries in the third.
Moreover, the establishment of a fully-trained team of journalists with expertise in court reporting, monitoring and analytical journalism is an important achievement for the future enhancement of media in the region.