25 September 2020
25 September 2020
The undersigned organisations call for the Belarusian authorities to drop their criminal defamation lawsuit against editor-in-chief of Nasha Niva, Yahor Martsinovich and to immediately release him from custody.
On 23 September 2020, Yahor Martsinovich was taken to the Investigative Committee after his apartment had been searched by the police. His detention is linked to the Nasha Niva article where one of the interviewees claimed that he had been beaten in a detention centre by the deputy head of the Interior Ministry Alexander Barsukou. The police have started criminal proceedings against Martsinovich under Article 188 of the Criminal Code — defamation. Barsukou is recognised as a victim in the case. Martsinovich is regarded as responsible for the article as the editor-in-chief of Nasha Niva.
We consider that the Belarusian defamation and insult provisions allow the imposition of disproportionate penalties, fail to establish adequate defences and are excessively vague, and hence open to abuse. Public authorities, including police and public officials, should take no part in the initiation or prosecution of criminal defamation cases, regardless of the status of the party claiming to have been defamed, even if he or she is a senior public official. Penalties under this article of the Criminal Code include a fine or correctional labour for up to two years, arrest or restriction of liberty for up to three years.
Since the disputed presidential elections on 9 August 2020, journalists have been detained and intimidated over 200 times. We call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure that attacks against journalists and media workers stop and everyone detained is released without delay, including Yahor Martsinovich, and that the criminal lawsuit against him is dropped immediately. Moreover, criminal defamation law should be abolished without delay.
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
The Belarusian journalists Katsyaryna Bahvalava and Darya Chultsova will be awarded the Prize for the Freedom and Future of the Media 2021READ MORE
The end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 were not easy on press and media freedom, the third MFRR Monitoring Report shows.READ MORE
On 20 July, the European Commission published the 2021 Rule of Law Report. The document can be a valuable tool that empowers civil society, the EU institutions and Member State governments who care about the rule of law in the Union. However, for it to live up to the high expectations and truly become a critical tool that can contribute to the promotion and safeguarding of EU values, we believe several fundamental changes are needed in future iterations of the report.READ MORE
The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) is highly concerned about the raid this morning on the home of investigative journalist Roman Dobrokhotov. We call on the Russian authorities to immediately halt its intensifying crackdown on independent media in the run-up to the legislative elections in September.READ MORE
The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and undersigned partner organisations are concerned about and condemn recent statements by Turkish President Erdoğan and other government officials pertaining to the introduction of new regulation of so-called fake news and “foreign-funded” news in the country.READ MORE
The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) is highly alarmed by the revelations by a consortium led by French NGO Forbidden Stories about the surveillance of journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers and others through the Pegasus spyware program developed by Israeli company NSO Group.READ MORE
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.