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SEMINAR FOR JOURNALISTS - REPORTING ABOUT SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICES: THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN OVERSIGHT OF INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY AGENCIES

 

Association of European Journalists of Serbia (UENS) organized seminar "Reporting about security intelligence services: the role of media in oversight of intelligence and security agencies". The seminar was held in Belgrade on October 12, 2009 in Media Center, 3, Terazije Street.

The goal of the seminar was to inform the journalists and rise debate on the current status of reform of intelligence services in order to increase capacity of journalists in Serbia for competent reporting on security sector. That was the first time that representatives of all security intelligence agencies (VBA, VOA and BIA) and security experts meet with journalist from Serbia in order to debate on current status of reform of security intelligence agencies.

Seminar geathered 30 journalists from all over Serbia and representatives of Ministery of Defence, embassies and civil society. Additional 20 journalists from major media reported on seminar. Seminar attracted great media attention because that was the first time representatives of all security intelligence agencies met with journalists and because the public is interested in what they are doing in order to find and arrest Ratko Mladic. Their answer to this question was information from the seminar, that all media broadcasted (available in press clipping & video clipping, internet clipping that we sent in october, 22th 2009. by Post express to Mr Haaverstad Terje

After introductory lectures, participants at the seminar, as well as reporters had opportunity to pose questions to lecturers. The lecturers agreed that cooperation between VBA, VOA and BIA is excellent, but that the fact the two accused under Hague tribunal are still free means relative unsuccesss of the intelligence agencies. They also pointed that all resources of intelligence agencies are oriented towards locating the acussed persons.

Col. Dejan Jankovic spoke about reform of Military and security agency. Answering journalists questions he said that solving the problem with Ratko Mladic is one of the priorities of VBA. Lt. Col Rasa Lazovic focused on what kind of Military and intelligence agency Serbia needs. He explained how this agency works.

Jovan Stojic from BIA explained how this intelligence agency works. He also spoke about cooperation of BIA and media. Answering the participants questions he said that all resources of BIA are focus on locating accused under ICTY.

Acting Secretary General of the President of the Republic of Serbia spoke about the work of the Council for national security and explained how similar bodies in other countries work.

During afternoon part of the seminar participants spoke about parliamentary oversight over intelligence agencies and the role of media in the work and activities of intelligence agencies.

Marko Djurisic, representative of Serbian Parlaments board for security and defence spoke about problems in work of this body. He said that struggle of parties and the fact that president of the board (from opposition party) is not interested for the work of this body make this body disfunctional. As the result, the meetings of the board sometimes look like circus and are often used for political promotion. Mr. Djurisic said that the chairmen of the important parlamentory board should be from govering parties.

Marinko Radic, representative of the Comissioner for information of the public importance and personal data protection spoke about the problems this body is facing in the effort to provide the efforts to provide the right to free access to information of public importance to all interested parties.

Vladimir Bilandzic, representative of OSCE Mission to Serbia spoke about the importance of the reform of intelligence agencies for regional stability. He reminded that during the last decade of XX century this agencies were misused and were connected with regional crime and paramilitary forces. He said the reform of intelligence agencies is important in order to prevent their political misuse.

Zoran Dragisic from the Faculty of Security said that media can practice oversight of intelligence agencies in respecting their legal framework and other bodies that practice the oversight of this agencies. He said that oversight of media is limited because very often intelligence agencies control media.

Participants at the seminar debated on their experiences and problems in reporting on intelligence agencies. They all agreed that when crisis arise it is very difficult to get information from Military, Police and intelligence agencies.

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