The latest developments in Belarus raise strong concerns on media freedom and journalists’ working conditions. New updates to the National Media Law now prohibits journalists from contributing to any foreign media, as one of many restrictions introduced in June 2018. Cases such as “BelTA” case, increasing arrests, surveillance, libels and fines against editors and journalists are becoming a part of everyday working conditions in Belarus.
The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) and the Belarus Association of Journalists (BAJ) invite you to a press conference to discuss the increasing threats against freelance journalists and state of media freedom in Belarus with journalists, experiencing the situation first hand.
- Larysa Shchyrakova,
a freelance journalist from town of Homiel, Belarus, recently charged with being “unaccredited in the Republic of Belarus and carrying out professional activities as a journalist of foreign media” after publishing a photo report on her trip to Nepal. Shchyrakova was also among the first journalists being fined in 2016 for allegedly “working for foreign media”
- Volha Chaichyts,
a freelance journalist, recently charged with “violation of mass media law” concerning her story about local issues in region of Fanipal, Belarus. The last fine Volha received was on 5 September, because of a report on citizens of Krinitsa district.
Moderated by Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ General Secretary
Press conference | Freelance journalism in Belarus
Tuesday, 18 September, 13:00-14:00 hs
Press Club Brussels Europe, Rue Froissart 95, 1040 Brussels
Intensified prosecution of freelance journalists in Belarus
The prosecution of freelance journalists in Belarus is a threat both to freedom of speech and to the freelance journalists’ personal lives. Imposing fines on the journalist who contribute to foreign media violates international statues of press freedom and the right to access to information.
In 2017 a total of 69 fines were issued to freelance journalist and so far during this year 76 fines were issued. These figures show that the situation of Belarusian freelance journalists has deteriorated in 2018. The legal prosecution of freelance journalists for their cooperation with foreign mass media without accreditation has significantly increased. The total sum of fines on article 22.9 part 2 of the Belarus Code of Administrative Offenses has exceeded EUR 25,000 in equivalent since the year started. There have taken place more than 76 trials on administrative cases against freelance journalists since the beginning of 2018.
We as freelance journalists in the Nordic countries are very concerned with the current situation for the rights of freelance journalists, in Belarus.
We, the participants of the Nordic Freelance Seminar 2018, in Malmö, Sweden calls upon the official authorities of Belarus:
– not to harass journalists for doing their journalistic activity
– to stop immediately the prosecution of freelance journalists for their professional work;
– to amend Belarusian media law to guarantee equal rights to all journalists in accordance with international standards and international obligations of Belarus.
- Frilans Riks, the freelance district within The Swedish Union of Journalist (SJF)
- SFJ, Association of Finnish Freelance Journalist in Finland
- FAO, Freelance Chapter of Radio- and TV-journalists Union in Finland
- NJ Frilans, within the Norwegian Union of Journalists
- FreelanceGruppen within The Danish Union of Journalists