Analytical review No. 2-1b “Situation with journalists’ rights in the Republic of Belarus during the period of January 19th – March 15th, 2011”

The International Observation Mission had prepared another systematized compilation of the facts that illustrate intervention into activities of journalists’ community in the Republic of Belarus. The analytical review is the logical continuation of the work presented in the Analytical review No. 2-1 “Situation with journalists’ rights in the light of the events in the Republic of Belarus during the period of December 2010 – January 2011” (http://www.hrwatch-by.org/en/analytical-review-2-1) and covers period from January 19th to March 15th, 2011.

This overview is based on information collected from open sources, in particular from mass media, reports of the Belarusian Association of Journalists and also data provided by the Legal Transformation Centre.

Overview includes cases of detention, interrogation in KGB, searches and exemption of IT equipment and also other kinds of limitation of journalists’ freedoms during official duty performances, in particular attempts to influence editorial policy (censorship). Situation with journalists, accused according to Article 292 “Mass riots” of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus and also key examples of international support of the journalists’ community of Belarus are presented separately.

In the analytical report the Mission once again draws attention to the fact that pressure on journalists, creation of obstacles to their activities are unacceptable and violate both the international obligations and the domestic legislation of the Republic of Belarus, in particular the provision of the Criminal Code that foresees responsibility for obstruction of legal professional journalism activities (art. 198 CC RB). The spectrum of forms of pressure on journalists and the media during the last two months had been significantly broadened; this leads to serious concerns of human rights organizations, international community and must become subject of investigation by the national prosecutor’s office.

In its summary the Mission emphasizes that at this moment the authorities of the Republic of Belarus did not provide any clear explanation to their actions concerning continuing seizure of the computer equipment from journalists and some media and therefore proved by these facts a suggestion that such actions are aimed at paralyzing the work of particular media. Moreover, the Mission would like to draw attention to strengthening of international reaction, which nevertheless did not become subject of response reaction of the Belarusian authorities and, consequently, did not cause any actions directed to systematic change of the situation.

Taking into account the continuing pressure on journalists and obstruction of their professional activities the Mission encourages the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to follow the recommendations, which are part of the Analytical review No.2-1 “Situation with journalists’ rights in the light of the events in the Republic of Belarus during the period of December 2010 – January 2011”, and also recommends to the governmental institutions of Belarus and national organizations to react immediately to new threats to freedom of speech in the Republic of Belarus.

1 April 2011

Full text of review

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