BAJ CHALLENGES CONSTITUTIONALITY OF CRIMINAL CODE ARTICLES 367 (SLANDER OF THE PRESIDENT), 368 (INSULT TO THE PRESIDENT), AND 369 (INSULT TO AN OFFICIAL)
The congress of Belarusian Association of Journalists, which took place on 6 June in Minsk, adopted an appeal to the Constitutional Court. They challenge conformity of Criminal Code articles 367 (slander of the President), 368 (insult to the President), and 369 (insult to an official) to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.
BAJ members point out that Belarusian journalists Mikola Markevich, Pavel Mazheika, Viktar Ivashkevich, and citizen Aksana Novikava were convicted under those articles.
Charges against Alena Pankratava, reporter of the Belarusian RFE/RL service and Anatol Labedzka, head of United Civic Party, have not been dropped. Besides that, recently, The Viacherni Stolin editor-in-chief Alexander Ihnatsiuk has been charged with insult to an official.
“The sentences made and criminal charges imposed have aggravated the political situation in the country, provoking a very negative reaction of the international community, including authoritative European structures”, -- say BAJ members in the appeal.
The journalists pointed out that criminal persecution for free expression of opinions, including critique of state officials is not practiced in Europe for ages. “Thus, -- says BAJ in its appeal, -- Art 367, 368, 369 of the Criminal Code contradict not only the Belarusian Constitution, but also international obligations of the Republic of Belarus”, reports BelaPAN