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  • BAJ Appeals to President’s Administration Regarding Persecution of Freelancers

    The Belarusian Association of Journalists sent a request to the President’s Administration with the view to clarifying the reasons for the renewed persecution against some journalists under article 22.9.

    The let­ter was sent on Jan­u­ary 6 to the head of the Admin­is­tra­tion Ali­ak­san­dr Kasinets.

    Ali­ak­san­dr Lukashen­ka, reply­ing to the issue raised by the ‘Radio Lib­er­ty’ jour­nal­ist Valery Kali­nous­ki at a press con­fer­ence on August 4, 2015, said: “I think that it’s non­sense… It is not my prin­ci­ple to ban some­thing. I will look into this prob­lem. As for the fines, we will exam­ine the prob­lem, too. These are not rich peo­ple, and I under­stand it. I promise you that I will con­sid­er this issue. It is not because we meet. It is because you appar­ent­ly have the point here. We will address this prob­lem.”

    After that, no new cas­es accord­ing to arti­cle 22.9 appeared, and this fact was assessed pos­i­tive­ly, in par­tic­u­lar, by the Euro­pean Fed­er­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists.

    How­ev­er, at the end of Decem­ber 2015, three cas­es at once were launched against Belaru­sian jour­nal­ists in the Homel region.

    On Decem­ber 24, Larysa Shchyrako­va was called to the police depart­ment to receive a police report for vio­lat­ing arti­cle 22.9 of Belarus Code on Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es, and a sim­i­lar sum­mons was giv­en to her col­league Kas­tus Zhuk­ous­ki on Decem­ber 28.

    We con­sid­er resump­tion of this prac­tice unac­cept­able and dam­ag­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of the state and the head of state.

    Hav­ing in mind the issue raised and the state­ment of Ali­ak­san­dr Lukashen­ka, the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists:

    • Express­es grave con­cerns over the resumed prac­tice of hold­ing jour­nal­ists account­able just because they per­form their pro­fes­sion­al duties;
    • Encour­ages to put an end to the unground­ed inter­fer­ence of law enforce­ment agen­cies with the jour­nal­ists’ rights to receive, store and dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion, free­dom of expres­sion and opin­ion, guar­an­teed by arti­cle 33 and 34 of the Con­sti­tu­tion of the Repub­lic of Belarus;

    We sug­gest dis­cussing the issues con­cerned at a meet­ing between offi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the President’s Admin­is­tra­tion, oth­er state bod­ies and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of BAJ, oth­er per­sons con­cerned.

    Pros­e­cu­tion of jour­nal­ists accord­ing to arti­cle 22.9 last­ed from April 2014 until August 2015, with the total num­ber of cas­es 38. The total sum of the fines in 2015 amount­ed to 8000 euro (See the Chart)

    BAJ lawyers and inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty think that such per­se­cu­tion vio­lates the cit­i­zens’ rights to receive and impart infor­ma­tion and their free­dom of expres­sion, guar­an­teed by Belaru­sian Con­sti­tu­tion.

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