Ministry of justice ratified a special iinstruction regulating the way of displaying court activities by mass media.
According to the new instructions, the judge may ban to show him/herself on TV and publish his/her photos “in order to guarantee the security and prevent possible interference in decision-making actions”. The judge may also make the press stop photographing and video-taping the court process “if it interferes with legal procedures” and so on. The courts have to inform the Ministry of Justice at once in cases of “pressure on courts from the part of mass media”.
A resolution had been passed in a national registry of law acts recently (“About the way of displaying the activities of Belarus courts in the mass media”). The document regulates the relations of the judges and the press and introduces far more restrictions in comparison with former rules, which sources had been only “The law of printed and other mass media” and “The law of judicial system and judge status in Belarus” and also the codes of practice.
The comments of deputy chairman of civil union “Belarusian Association of Journalists” Andrei Bastunets: “The instructions of the Ministry of Justice concern firstly the courts and judges. Regulating of mass media actions is not their competence. But one cannot but notice that the regulations concern mass media by implication. Moreover, they create the soil for limiting mass media actions, as, for example, point 4 of the regulations, which concerns publishing the facts about judicial proceedings. The law of press has the point prohibiting publishing the materials of non-finished cases, but in these regulations they say about facts – a far more unclear concept.