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  • EFJ Statement on the Alarming Situation with Freelance Journalism in Belarus

    At the EFJ Annual Meeting in Budva, Montenegro, June 1 - 2, EFJ made a statement on the situation of freelancers in Belarus.

    The EFJ called on Belaru­sian author­i­ties to drop the prac­tice of hold­ing free­lancers account­able for work for for­eign mass media with­out Belaru­sian accred­i­ta­tion. The union also called on Euro­pean insti­tu­tions, the OSCE and the Coun­cil of Europe, to pay atten­tion to vio­la­tions of free­lancers’ rights in Belarus. The text of the doc­u­ment was pro­posed by Agnesz­ka Ryma­shevs­ka-Guzy, head of Bel­sat, mem­ber of teh EFJ Steer­ing Com­mit­tee, and Andrus Kliku­nou, coor­di­na­tor of the For Free­lance cam­paign at BAJ.


    EFJ State­ment on the Alarm­ing Sit­u­a­tion with Free­lance Jour­nal­ism in Belarus

    The actu­al fail­ure to rec­og­nize the exis­tence of free­lance jour­nal­ists, who do not coop­er­ate con­stant­ly with any spe­cif­ic media, by the Belaru­sian offi­cial author­i­ties, cre­ates a seri­ous prob­lem for the media work­ers.

    The sit­u­a­tion is par­tic­u­lar­ly grave for the free­lancers, who coop­er­ate with for­eign media, since they are not men­tioned in the Belaru­sian leg­is­la­tion. Accord­ing to the Belaru­sian law “On Mass Media”, “a mass medi­um’s jour­nal­ist” has to be con­nect­ed with a con­crete edi­to­r­i­al through labor or oth­er con­trac­tu­al rela­tions. There­fore, free­lance jour­nal­ists are not enti­tled to receiv­ing the required accred­i­ta­tion from the Min­istry of For­eign Affairs. Con­se­quent­ly, the free­lance jour­nal­ists suf­fer reg­u­lar­ly from the pros­e­cu­tion for their jour­nal­is­tic activ­i­ty with­out the accred­i­ta­tion. Since April 2014, the free­lance jour­nal­ists, who coop­er­ate with for­eign media, have been penal­ized 22 times for vio­la­tion of Arti­cle 22.9 of the Admin­is­tra­tive Code of the Repub­lic of Belarus to the fines, which totaled more than EUR 7,000.

    This kind of pros­e­cu­tion for the dis­sem­i­na­tion of infor­ma­tion in for­eign media is a gross vio­la­tion of the stan­dards of free­dom of expres­sion and vio­la­tion of jour­nal­ists’ rights.

    In con­nec­tion with the said above, the Euro­pean Fed­er­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists

    - express­es sol­i­dar­i­ty with free­lance jour­nal­ists in Belarus and sup­ports the strug­gle of the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists for the equal­i­ty of rights of all jour­nal­ists in the exer­cise of their pro­fes­sion­al activ­i­ties;

    - calls on the Belaru­sian author­i­ties to imme­di­ate­ly cease pres­sure on free­lance jour­nal­ists, coop­er­at­ing with for­eign media, and in par­tic­u­lar to aban­don the prac­tice of bring­ing them to admin­is­tra­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty;

    - calls on the insti­tu­tions of the Coun­cil of Europe, the OSCE, and the Euro­pean Union to pay atten­tion to vio­la­tions of free­dom of speech in Belarus relat­ed to the activ­i­ties of free­lance jour­nal­ists and to take steps to rem­e­dy the sit­u­a­tion.

    Adopt­ed unan­i­mous­ly by EFJ AM del­e­gates on 02.06.2015

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