ECPMF joins call for immediate release of all imprisoned journalists

05 February 2021

Ahead of the International Day of Solidarity with Belarus on 7 February, the undersigned organisations working in the field of freedom of expression and media freedom call for the immediate and unconditional release of all journalists and media workers who continue to be arbitrarily detained.

 

Nearly six months since President Alexander Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in what has been widely acknowledged and condemned as a fraudulent election, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya remains in exile and thousands of protesters continue to take to the streets of Minsk calling for his resignation.

 

The regime has made every effort to prevent its citizens from accessing independent information. News outlets have had their publishing licences revoked. Some have their equipment seized. Independent newspapers are banned from printing and barred from sales through the national state monopolist retailer.

 

As part of this effort, the authorities have also used violence, threats, and arbitrary detention to intimidate journalists and prevent them from doing their jobs. Reporters and photographers wearing press vests have been deliberately targeted by law enforcement. According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), journalists were detained 480 times in 2020. They have spent over 1,200 days behind bars, often without being told what, if any, charges they face.

 

At least ten journalists and media workers remain in detention, among them are several of our friends and colleagues. They are: Katsiaryna Barysevich, Daria Chultsova, Yulia Slutskaya, Alla Sharko, Siarhei Alsheuski, Petr Slutski, Ksenia Lutskina, Andrei Aliaksandrau, and Aliaksandr Mikrukou.

 

As the International Day of Solidarity with Belarus approaches, we are calling for each and every journalist and media worker to be immediately and unconditionally released. We condemn the blatant violations to their human rights and once again remind the Belarusian authorities of their obligations under international law.

Signed by:

Jessica Ní Mhainín, Senior Policy Research and Advocacy Officer, Index on Censorship

Dave Elseroad, Head of Advocacy and Geneva Office, Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF)

Maria Ordzhonikidze, Director, Justice for Journalists Foundation

Ricardo Gutiérrez, General Secretary, European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

Sarah Clarke, Head of Europe and Central Asia, ARTICLE 19

Laurens Hueting, Advocacy Officer, European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

Jaroslaw Wlodarczyk, Secretary General, International Association of Press Clubs (IAPC)

Marcin Lewicki, President, Press Club Polska

Daniela Kraus, General Secretary, Presseclub Concordia, Vienna

Andrei Bastunets, Chairperson, Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ)

Peter Spiegel, Press Freedom Committee Chair, Overseas Press Club of America (OPC)

Board of Frankfurter Presseclub

Board of Press Club Brussels Europe

Pierre Ruetschi, Executive Director, Geneva Press Club

Ryszard Bankowicz, President, Polish Club of International Columnists

S Venkat Narayan, President, FCC of South Asia, New Delhi, India

Uri Dromi, Director General, Jerusalem Press Club

Read news by categories:

Related news

Statement

Albania: Media pluralism and transparency concerns fuel deterioration in media freedom

Following a two-day fact-finding mission to Tirana on 17-18 November 2022, the partners of the Council of Europe’s Platform on Safety of Journalists today publish their findings on press freedom, media pluralism and the safety of journalists in Albania.

READ MORE
Statement

Italy: a call of support for Roberto Saviano, defendant in a defamation trial

Members of the Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE), with the support of the coalition’s Italian group and Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), express solidarity with Roberto Saviano who attended the first hearing in the proceedings for aggravated defamation initiated against him by current Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

READ MORE
Statement

Bulgarian far-right party’s ‘foreign agent’ bill sparks media freedom concerns

Press freedom groups raise alarm that Bulgarian Foreign Agent law appears intended to target critical media.

READ MORE
Feature

Italy: Concern about prosecutor’s demand for prison sentence for three journalists in response to their factual reporting

The undersigned media freedom and journalist associations today express shared concern over an Italian prosecutor’s request for a six-month prison sentence in a case of defamation through the press involving three journalists.

READ MORE
Feature

Netherlands: Press freedom groups concerned about video with hostile rhetoric by Dutch politician against reporter

The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) and its partners express today their concerns about hostile rhetoric used against independent journalists by Dutch political party Forum for Democracy (FvD). Such problematic language creates an intimidating climate for public interest journalism, normalises both online and physical targeting of the press, and can lead to self-censorship amongst the journalistic community. We urge the FvD to put an end to its dangerous smear campaign against independent media.

READ MORE
Statement

Greece: SLAPP award winner Grigoris Dimitriadis urged to drop defamation lawsuits

The undersigned international media freedom and journalists organisations wrote to Grigoris Dimitriadis to express our shared concern about defamation claims filed against investigative journalists and media outlets following your resignation from the role of general secretary in the office of the Greek Prime Minister in August 2022.

READ MORE
Tags :