A letter requesting airtime on the Belarusian Television was signed by influential media managers, including Maryna Zolatava, chief editor of TUT.by; Andrey Dynko, chief editor of Nasha Niva newspaper, Sviatlana Kalinkina, editor of Narodnaya Volya newspaper, Aliaksandr Starykevich, chief editor of Solidarity online newspaper, and Andrei Bastunets, the chairperson of BAJ.
Miklós Haraszti: “No changes in dismal human rights situation since presidential election” in Belarus
GENEVA (9 February 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, warned that opposition leaders, human rights activists, journalists, and many other citizens have been subjected to harassment, administrative procedures and fines since the October presidential election.
On February 4, the Buda-Kashaliova court fined Kastus Zhukouski for 40 b.a. (8 million 400 thousand rubles).
Ales Bialiatski, Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights, together with Zhanna Litvina, ex-chair and Board member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, have met in Brussels with Helga Schmid, Deputy Secretary General for the European External Action Service, and Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, as well as a number of ambassadors of European countries to the European Union and other EU representatives in charge of human rights issues and European neighborhood policy.
BAJ sent urgent letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression David Kaye, informing about the recent violent attack on the correspondent of TUT.by portal Pavel Dabravolski, and about the continuing administrative prosecution of freelance journalists contributing to foreign mass media without accreditation.
Last week, representatives of two journalistic unions – the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) and the Belarusian Union of Journalists (BUJ) discussed ethics of journalists in social networks.
Journalists filed a collective petition to the Ministry of Information and the General prosecutor’s office demanding to consider the incident of beating of Pavel Dabravolski, identify and bring to liability the policemen involved in the beating, and to take measure to prevent such incidents in future.
The Presidential election was the main factor that influenced the situation of mass media in Belarus in 2015. The election was held on October 11, 2015. On the eve of the Presidential election, the authorities introduced stricter norms into the media legislation and its application practice. Apparently, the decision was also grounded on the intention of Belarusian government to reinforce control over the media coverage of the gradually aggravating economic situation in the country.
On January 25, the media reported that the criminal case against the journalist Aliaksandr Alesin had been suspended. It turned out that probably the case was suspended due to the fact that article 356.1, with which he had been charged (establishing cooperation with special services, security or intelligence services of a foreign state), was eliminated from the Criminal Code by the Law dated January 5, 2016.
Paul Dabravolski, a reporter working for the Belarusian news website TUT.BY was arrested and given a fine of 9.450.000 Belarusian rubles (420 EUR) for filming police beating two protesters during a court hearing on a graffiti case on 25 January. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) have today condemned the arrest and urged the authority to withdraw all charges against Dabravolski.