• Actual
  • Law and the media
  • Helpful
  • Work areas and campaigns
  • Reviews and monitoring
  • EFJ Appeals to Lukashenka to Introduce Freelance Journalists into Law

    On November 26, the head of the European Federation of Journalists Mogens Blicher Bjerregård sent a letter to Alexander Lukashenka asking to introduce the definion of freelance journalists into the media law of Belarus.

    “As it became known, in your reply to the ques­tion raised by the ‘Radio Lib­er­ty’ jour­nal­ist Valery Kali­nous­ki on August 4, 2015 about the fre­quent cas­es of pros­e­cu­tion by fines of free­lance jour­nal­ists coop­er­at­ing with for­eign media, you expressed the fol­low­ing opin­ion: “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.”

    The prob­lem appeared since April 2014. The Belaru­sian jour­nal­ists, whose mate­ri­als pub­lished in for­eign mass media, were pros­e­cut­ed for their reports on admin­is­tra­tive offences, drawn up by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Belaru­sian inter­nal affairs agen­cies.

    The total sum of imposed fines amount­ed to approx­i­mate­ly 146.78 mil­lion Belaru­sian rubles as of August 19, 2015. Accord­ing to the police and courts, these actions were regard­ed as “vio­la­tion of the pro­ce­dure of pro­duc­tion and / or dis­tri­b­u­tion of media prod­ucts” (arti­cle 22.9, part 2 of the Code on Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es of the Repub­lic of Belarus). How­ev­er, in our opin­ion, the appli­ca­tion of this arti­cle in the Code on Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es in rela­tion to jour­nal­ists con­sti­tutes to the vio­la­tion of the cit­i­zens’ Con­sti­tu­tion­al right to receive, store, and dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion. It would have a neg­a­tive impact on the inter­na­tion­al image of the Repub­lic of Belarus.

    Jour­nal­ists’ organ­i­sa­tions, includ­ing the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists, intend­ed to raise the prob­lem by address­ing to state bod­ies, in order to bring legal cer­tain­ty to free­lance jour­nal­ists. In par­tic­u­lar, appeals were sent on the issue to the Supreme Court of Belarus, the Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs of Belarus, the Gen­er­al Prosecutor’s Office of the Repub­lic of Belarus, and the State Secu­ri­ty Com­mit­tee of the Repub­lic of Belarus.

    How­ev­er, none of the above-men­tioned author­i­ties took appro­pri­ate steps to resolve the sit­u­a­tion.

    We were very pleased to learn that the prac­tice of bring­ing free­lance jour­nal­ists to admin­is­tra­tive lia­bil­i­ty was ceased after you had expressed your opin­ion on the men­tioned prob­lem.

    We are con­fi­dent that the offi­cial author­i­ties of Belarus will adhere to the pro­gres­sive trend in the future.

    In order to pre­vent sim­i­lar prob­lems in the future, we would like to address to you with a kind sug­ges­tion to intro­duce the legal sta­tus of free­lance jour­nal­ists into the law of Belarus.»

    The most important news and materials in our Telegram channel — subscribe!
    Most read
    Every day send to your mailbox: actual offers (grants, vacancies, competitions, scholarships), announcements of events (lectures, performances, presentations, press conferences) and good content.


    * indicates required

    By subscribing to the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy