OSCE PA human rights leaders decry harassment of Belarusian independent media
COPENHAGEN, 20 May 2021 – The leaders of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee today echoed the concerns raised by OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, over the blocking of Belarusian media outlet Tut.by and the raids of its offices in Minsk, Brest, Vitebsk, and Hrodna. Belarusian authorities have also searched the homes of several of Tut.by’s staff members, alleging tax evasion.
In response to the developments, Kyriakos Hadjiyianni (Cyprus), Michael Georg Link (Germany) and Kari Henriksen (Norway) – the Chair, Vice-Chair and Rapporteur, respectively, of the OSCE PA’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions – issued the following joint statement:
“We are very troubled by the Belarusian authorities’ decision to not only shut down the Tut.by website but also seize its equipment, documents and mobile phones. We understand that this action was taken in response to alleged violations of the law, but this is an extreme measure and is indicative of a rapidly deteriorating situation for freedom of the media in Belarus. We urge Belarusian authorities to lift the blocking of Tut.by’s website and to cease harassment of independent media in the country.”
During its most recent election observation mission in Belarus, in 2019, OSCE PA observers met with a journalist from Tut.by, who contributed to briefings on the election background. The Assembly continues to actively co-operate with a broad range of actors in Belarus, in particular the parliament, including exploring future activities.