Ahead of the European Games to take place in Minsk from 21 to 30 June 2019, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) reiterates its call on Belarusian authorities to respect press freedom and journalists’ right to work in complete freedom. The EFJ further calls on the European Olympic Committee to advocate for press freedom in Belarus, its host for the European games.
At the moment, the situation is particularly worrying for freelance journalists working in Belarus for foreign media outlets, who are denied accreditation and therefore imposed unjustified bans to carry out their journalistic activities. Since April 2014, freelance journalists have been sentenced to pay fines 247 times for violation of Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code of the Republic of Belarus.
In a resolution adopted in October 2018, the European Parliament drew attention to the case of Charter97 and the dwindling freedom of the media in Belarus.
Following the EFJ General Meeting resolution approved on 10 May 2019 in Tallinn, the EFJ calls on the Belarusian authorities to respect the freelance journalists’ freedom of speech and working conditions and immediately cease pressure on self-employed workers cooperating with foreign media.
“We believe it is a farce when European Olympic games are taking place in a country, where press freedom is not respected at all and foreign journalists as well as local freelances and bloggers are harrassed and fined”, said EFJ President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) warned about the difficulties journalists may face while covering the European Games and published some guidelines for journalists related to accreditations, security measures and safe communications. The memos are available in English and Belarusian.