2009 18/09

The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) protests against the serious barriers for journalists’ professional activities during the protests on 16 and 9 September and demands to call those responsible to account.

In the evening on 16 September the law enforcement officers violently prohibited local and foreign journalists to record events during the action in memory of politician Viktar Hanchar and businessman Anatol Krasouski who disappeared 10 years ago. Men in civilian clothes accounted for 2 persons for every 1 journalist, roughly, with the risk of equipment damage and injure to the reporters pushed journalists’ video cameras and cameras off from the objects of events. That was made even despite the fact that journalists had their editorial certificates.

Almost the same things happened on 9 September, when police prevented the journalists from covering a picket on Kastrychnitskaya Square. The picket was against the entry of Russian troops – members of military maneuvers of “West 2009”, into the territory of Belarus.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists:

– considers inadmissible and unacceptable impediments to journalists’ professional activities, and thus, the impediments to a right of society to receive and disseminate information, guaranteed by the Constitution;

– reminds the law enforcement’s and other government’s officials about the right of journalists to be present “at public events, in places other socially important events and send out information” (p. 2.2. Art. 34 of the law currently in force “On Mass Media”);

– expresses the grave concern that above mentioned facts during the mass actions again become systematic. And that it is evidence of special orders by fulfillment of which the law enforcement officials violate the law;

– calls on public prosecutor’s offices and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to give an adequate assessment of what happened and bring those responsible to justice;

– calls on public prosecutor’s office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to take measures to prevent violations of the rules on the work with press.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists will take all possible and necessary measures to ensure that such actions by law enforcement officers do not go unpunished, and do not recur in the future.

Board of BAJ

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