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Belarus: BAJ and media groups demand end to persecution of journalists (Demo)

This statement was originally published on on 22 June 2020.

Over just two days, June 19 and 20, at least 14 journalists were arrested in Belarus while performing their professional duties.

Moreover, most of the reporters not only had press IDs, as required by the law on mass media, and were ready to present them on demand, but also wore markings clearly identifying them as media staff (with press vests and badges).

Some of the arrested journalists, in particular Alexander Pazniak and Siarhei Bahrou in Hantsavichy, were beaten. Moreover, the police officers repeatedly attacked (it is difficult to find another word) the journalists while they were live streaming, and violations of journalists’ rights were evident.

We call attention to the fact that article 34 of the Law “On Mass Media” entitles journalists who are performing their professional duty to be present, in accordance with the rules established by the law, at mass actions and in places of other importanr public events, and impart information (p.2.2.). The detained journalists followed the requirements of the law – in contrast to the law enforcement officers who grossly violated their rights.

These events have become the quintessence of restrictions on the right to receive and disseminate information and freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus. Recently, journalists and mass media have been constantly banned from attending meetings of state bodies, denied official information on issues that are important for society (the pandemic and elections), harassed by fines and received threats from state agencies (including threats to deprive the media and journalists of accreditation), and detained.

We demand the competent state authorities:

– strictly observe articles 33 and 34 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, which guarantee freedom of expression, prohibition of censorship, and the right to receive and disseminate information;

– stop the persecution of non-state media journalists, freelancers and foreign media journalists for performing their professional duties;

– ensure equal treatment in terms of accreditation, provision of information and strict compliance with article 13 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, which guarantees everyone equal rights and equal opportunities for the free use of talent and property for business and other economic activities not prohibited by law;

– stop dividing the mass media into categories such as state and non-state, favored and not in disfavor, convenient and inconvenient, while ensuring the right to access and disseminate information, as stipulated in articles 13, 33, and 34 of the Constitution;

– stop obstructing the legitimate professional activities of journalists; and

– make a legal assessment of the actions of law enforcement agencies’ representatives who detained journalists and obstructed their activities and hold them accountable under article 198 of the Criminal code, which establishes responsibility for any form of obstructing the lawful professional activities of a journalist or forcing journalists to disseminate or refuse to disseminate information, committed with the use of violence or with the threat of its use, destruction or damage to property, infringement of the rights and the legitimate interests of a journalist.


Belarusian Association of Journalists
BelaPAN news agency
Narodnaya Volya
Novy Chas
Nasha Niva
Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi
Rehiyanalnaya Hazeta
Brestskaya Gazeta
European Radio for Belarus
Belsat TV

The post Belarus: BAJ and media groups demand end to persecution of journalists appeared first on IFEX.


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