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  • EFJ president: It is worrying that the government is renewing this bad practice with a new wave of prosecution against freelance journalists”

    Belarus continues its bad practice by handing over the first fine of the year on 13 January to freelance journalist, Larysa Shchyrakova, for working with “foreign media”. Following the ruling, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) have called for an immediate appeal of the ruling and urged the government to scrap the existing law.

    Shchyrako­va, was fined 4 620 000 Belaru­sian rubles (around 225 EUR) by the Homiel Dis­trict Court for break­ing Arti­cle 22.9 of Belaru­sian Code on Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es which for­bids free­lance jour­nal­ists in the coun­try from work­ing with for­eign media out­lets.

    With the sup­port of BAJ, Shchyrako­va will make an appeal against the court rul­ing. Last year, the BAJ has sent a let­ter of appeal to the Pres­i­den­tial Admin­is­tra­tion of Belarus and Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Lukashenko promised to look into the issue.

    Mogens Blich­er Bjer­regård, EFJ pres­i­dent says, “It is wor­ry­ing that the gov­ern­ment is renew­ing this bad prac­tice with a new wave of pros­e­cu­tion against free­lance jour­nal­ists in the coun­try.”

    Shchyrako­va is not the first vic­tim of this ridicu­lous law. In 2015, Belarus has issued 28 fines to jour­nal­ists based on Arti­cle 22.9. This is the sec­ond time Shchyrako­va was fined under this law.

    The EFJ togeth­er with BAJ have been lob­by­ing for sev­er­al years for the removal of Arti­cle 22.9 argu­ing that it vio­lat­ed the fun­da­men­tal rights of jour­nal­ists to free­dom of expres­sion.

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