Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
An IWPR report on Bosnia’s attempts to extradite a Bosnian Muslim politician has been singled out by media in the region for providing a much need objective and insightful account of a highly-charged issue.
The article, Bosnia’s Ganic Extradition Bid Under Scrutiny, reported by IWPR Hague reporter Rachel Irwin, was widely republished in Bosnia.
The piece, published in mid March, looked into a complex legal battle that was brewing between Serbia and Bosnia after a wartime member of the Bosnian presidency, Ejup Ganic, was arrested March 1 in London at Serbia’s request. Serbia wants to try him in Belgrade for alleged war crimes committed against Yugoslav army soldiers in Sarajevo in 1992.
Bosnia, on the other hand, had claimed the arrest in Britain and Serbia’s extradition request were illegal and demanded that Ganic be returned to Bosnia, where he would be put on trial if there is sufficient evidence for the indictment to be issued against him. At this stage, Bosnia is only conducting an investigation into Ganic’s case.
Irwin’s article focused on flaws legal experts identified in Bosnia’s request. They pointed out that only a country which has already issued an indictment against someone can demand his or her extradition; and that an investigation alone does not provide sufficient grounds for the extradition request to be met.
The article, news editors in the region told IWPR, provided a new and interesting insight into the whole case.
The report was picked up by the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA; the largest Bosnian newspaper, Avaz daily; the largest newspaper in Republika Srpska, Nezavisne novine; the very popular 24hour news portals Sarajevo-x and BiH vijesti; as well as the news portal in Republika Srpska, Banjalukalive.
Dubravka Blagojevic, editor-in-chief of the SRNA agency, said the agency was closely following developments in the Ganic story and seeking out information that was “objective and professional”, like Irwin’s article. In addition, she said, IWPR’s report provided a “fresh and different view” of the story.
“The article also looked into complex legal issues related to the requests for extradition and that was one of the main reasons we decided to republish it,” Blagojevic told IWPR.
“We can only hope that it had an impact on the wider public and help them understand what is going on. Unfortunately, this mainly legal case took on a political dimension in Bosnia and Hercegovina, and we needed an article which would highlight the legal aspects of the whole case, the way IWPR’s article did.”
Natasa Krsman, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Nezavisne novine, said Irwin’s article provided much needed information in an objective way.
“Media in Bosnia and Hercegovina republished this article because it was a rare opportunity to see an unbiased view on the arrest and [possible] extradition of Ejup Ganic,” she said. “The credibility of the report and its content was guaranteed by IWPR’s good reputation as a reliable source.”
Krsman added that the objective legal perspectives provided by British commentators were especially valuable to readers in the region.
“The article contained opinions of legal experts from London, whose judicial institutions are handling this case,” she said.
“These experts gave us their independent and professional opinion and explained the extradition procedure in a non-partisan way, without unnecessary emotions and personal interpretations, which we’ve seen too often in the local media reports on this case.”
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