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  • Journalist Ihar Karnei recognized as political prisoner

    Joint state­ment of human rights orga­ni­za­tions of Belarus.

    Ihar Karnei. File pho­to

    On July 17, 2023, jour­nal­ist Ihar Karnei was detained in Min­sk. He was lat­er sen­tenced to 10 days of admin­is­tra­tive deten­tion, and his house was searched.

    On July 28, 2023, he was trans­ferred to a pre-tri­al deten­tion cen­ter, and a crim­i­nal case was opened against him.

    The Min­sk City Court began con­sid­er­ing his case on March 19, 2024. Ihar Karnei was charged with join­ing an extrem­ist orga­ni­za­tion with the intent of com­mit­ting an extrem­ist crime (Part 3 of Arti­cle 361–1 of the Crim­i­nal Code). The state media SB.BY report­ed that the charges against Karnei were relat­ed to his asso­ci­a­tion with the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists, which has been deemed an ‘extrem­ist for­ma­tion’ in Belarus. Ihar alleged­ly insult­ed the pres­i­dent and gov­ern­ment offi­cials and report­ed false infor­ma­tion about the eco­nom­ic, social, mil­i­tary, and inter­na­tion­al sit­u­a­tion of the Repub­lic of Belarus in his jour­nal­is­tic mate­ri­als for BAJ.

    On March 22, 2024, he was found guilty and sen­tenced to three years in prison.

    Ihar Karnei is a Belaru­sian jour­nal­ist. He pre­vi­ous­ly worked as a free­lance cor­re­spon­dent for RFE/RL Belarus. In Novem­ber 2020, while cov­er­ing the protests, Ihar was detained.

    We, the under­signed orga­ni­za­tions, con­demn these actions and believe that they are tak­en against Ihar Karnei and are part of the government’s ongo­ing efforts to restrict the dis­sem­i­na­tion of uncen­sored infor­ma­tion and lim­it free­dom of speech. After the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, dozens of socio-polit­i­cal and media web­sites were blocked in Belarus. Addi­tion­al­ly, many print media out­lets were forced to stop pub­lish­ing, and jour­nal­ists and employ­ees of the media sec­tor in Belarus are cur­rent­ly impris­oned.

    Based on para­graphs 2.1 and 3.1 of the Guide­lines on the Def­i­n­i­tion of the Term ‘Polit­i­cal Pris­on­er’, adopt­ed at the 3rd Belaru­sian Human Rights Forum, we, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Belaru­sian human rights orga­ni­za­tions, declare that Ihar Karnei is a polit­i­cal pris­on­er and demand that the author­i­ties

    • imme­di­ate­ly release Ihar Karnei and ter­mi­nate his crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion;
    • put an end to using crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion to sup­press free­dom of expres­sion or oth­er rights and free­doms;
    • imme­di­ate­ly stop any repres­sion and release all polit­i­cal pris­on­ers.


    Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists;

    Belaru­sian Helsin­ki Com­mit­tee;

    Vias­na Human Rights Cen­ter;

    PEN Belarus;

    Legal Ini­tia­tive;

    Human Con­stan­ta.

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