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  • BAJ, Press Club, and United Media Association call to stop the pressure on the press


    Dur­ing the elec­tion and post-elec­tion peri­od, the Belaru­sian author­i­ties have inten­si­fied the pres­sure on the media, jour­nal­ists and blog­gers dra­mat­i­cal­ly. As a result, the sit­u­a­tion and their work­ing con­di­tions changed from grave to cat­a­stroph­ic.  While the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists reports 23 vio­la­tions of jour­nal­ists’ rights from the begin­ning of the year to May 8, i.e. before the elec­tion was called, it reg­is­tered over 400 such cas­es from May 9 to Octo­ber 12.

    The vast major­i­ty of these vio­la­tions occurred after the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. There were over 230 deten­tions of jour­nal­ists dur­ing this peri­od. In more than 50 cas­es, the police used vio­lence when detain­ing jour­nal­ists.  There were reg­is­tered facts of tor­ture after deten­tion, and dam­age or seizure of jour­nal­ists’ equip­ment; many jour­nal­ists were held in cus­tody and sen­tenced to short jail terms and fines.  Three jour­nal­ists were wound­ed by rub­ber bul­lets.   None of these facts led to ini­ti­a­tion of crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings against those respon­si­ble for the vio­la­tion of the rights of jour­nal­ists.

    Oth­er elec­tion-relat­ed vio­la­tions of free­dom of expres­sion include: 

    -         the Inter­net black­out in the whole coun­try in the first days after the elec­tion and its reg­u­lar shut­downs dur­ing mass protests,

    -         access restric­tions to news web­sites,

    -         a tac­it ban on print­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion of sev­er­al nation­al out­lets,

    -         offi­cial warn­ings by the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion to var­i­ous mass media,

    -         dis­re­gard of for­eign jour­nal­ists’ appli­ca­tions for accred­i­ta­tion,

    -         unjus­ti­fied depri­va­tion of per­ma­nent accred­i­ta­tion of for­eign jour­nal­ists, and

    -         stricter rules for receiv­ing new accred­i­ta­tion for for­eign media jour­nal­ists.

    We are par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cerned about the crim­i­nal case against Nasha Niva chief edi­tor Yahor Martsi­novich and depri­va­tion of TUT.BY of media sta­tus.

    In view of the above,


    -         Inves­ti­gate all cas­es of vio­la­tions of jour­nal­ists’ rights, includ­ing tor­ture, vio­lence, arbi­trary deten­tion, dam­age to and seizure of equip­ment, and to bring those respon­si­ble to jus­tice.

    -         Aban­don the prac­tice of arbi­trary arrests of jour­nal­ists when they are per­form­ing their pro­fes­sion­al duties.

    -         Release blog­gers who have been rec­og­nized as polit­i­cal pris­on­ers.

    -         Return the sta­tus of media to TUT.BY.

    -         Stop the pros­e­cu­tion of Nasha Niva chief edi­tor Yahor Martsi­novich.

    -         Stop the prac­tice of denial print­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion ser­vices to print media by state-owned dis­tri­b­u­tion net­works;

    -         Stop the prac­tice of block­ing the Inter­net;

    -         Aban­don the prac­tice of extra­ju­di­cial and arbi­trary block­ing of online news web­sites and to restore access to the blocked web­sites;

    -         Stop the prac­tice of obstruct­ing the work of for­eign media jour­nal­ists, as well as free­lance jour­nal­ists.


    Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists

    Press Club Belarus

    Unit­ed Media Asso­ci­a­tion of the Region­al Press Pub­lish­ers



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