SEESAC Organizes the First in a Series of Trainings on Ethical Reporting on Gender-Based Violence for Prosecutors and Journalists

Fifteen journalists, prosecutors, and representatives of the Ministry of Interior gathered in Vrdnik on 20-21 May 2024 to attend a two-day training focused on ethical reporting on gender-based violence (GBV), with a particular emphasis on incidents involving firearm misuse. This training, organised by UNDP SEESAC, was the first in a series of such events that will be organised across six Western Balkans jurisdictions designed primarily for prosecutors and the media. A similar series of trainings for representatives of Ministries of Interior/police services and the media were held throughout the region in 2023 and early 2024. The trainings are meant to improve the way the public is informed about gender-based violence, with the use of firearms, by building capacities and fostering cooperation among relevant institutions.

The training commenced with opening remarks from Jelena Bujaković, SEESAC SALW Specialist, who underscored the crucial role of ethical reporting in shaping public perception when it comes to firearms misuse and supporting GBV victims and their families.

During the first day, the participants were presented with a foundational understanding of GBV and the importance of ethical reporting, highlighting the severe consequences of unethical practices. Dragan Božanić, SEESAC Gender and Research Project Analyst, led a session on the intersection of GBV and small arms and light weapons (SALW), and relevant trends in South East Europe. He underscored the stark associated risks of firearms in the context of domestic violence and thus pointed to the importance of tracking the misuse of SALW in GBV situations. Going forward, trainees explored the communication dynamics between media newsrooms and public prosecutor’s offices regarding incidents of firearm misuse in GBV cases.

The second day began with a presentation on the findings of a recently conducted Analysis of Media Reporting on Firearm Misuse in Male Gender-based Violence against Women in the Western Balkans. Using the identified trends as a context, participants reviewed the subsequently developed Guidelines on how to better communicate with the media regarding such incidents developed by SEESAC, with a particular focus on issues relevant to Serbia, as well as the Guidelines for Ethical Reporting on Violence Against Women developed by the Network of Journalists Against Violence against Women. Participants then engaged in group practice sessions, simulating public communication on GBV incidents involving firearms from both media and public prosecutor’s perspectives.

In her closing remarks, Iva Savić, SEESAC Project Analyst, emphasised the importance of individual improvement and collaboration. She highlighted the need for more educational information about the phenomenon, relevant procedures, and support services to be included in all communication with the public, whether originating with the prosecutor’s offices or the media newsrooms.

These trainings were organised within the scope of SEESAC’s efforts to raise awareness and increase the operational capacities of relevant beneficiaries through the Regional IPA project in Support of Enhancing the Fight Against the Illegal Possession, Misuse, and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in the Western Balkans funded by European Commission.