‘Reporters Without Borders’ oppose adoption of new law ‘On mass media’

2008 2008-07-08T18:14:49+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The international organization Reporters Without Borders has once again expressed its concern related to adoption of the new law On Mass Media in Belarus, which is to be signed into law by Alexander Lukashenka.

‘We repeat our deep concern about the deterioration in press freedom in Belarus. We urge President Lukashenka to reject this new law which steps up the already strong pressure on the press in Belarus,’ the worldwide press freedom organization said, the Belarusian Association of Journalists informs.

Reporters Without Borders joined Article 19 on 24 June in sending a letter to the president of Belarus and the council of minister to express deep anxiety about this new law.

The restrictive new law was approved on 28 June by a near unanimous 48 votes to one by the Belarus’ Soviet of the Republic (the upper chamber of the National Assembly) after being adopted at the first and second reading in the lower house. It is only waiting for President Alexander Lukashenka’s signature to come into force. Once signed into law by the president, it will come into effect six months after being published in the official newspaper.

The new law will force all media to undergo a new registration process, provides for stricter state control of online publications and simplifies official closure of a media. Reporters Without Borders already spelled out the reasons for its concern in a release on 19 June.

The adoption of the first and second readings of the law prompted numerous protests within Belarus but also internationally and the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) put forward amendments to the draft law. Five of their 30 suggestions were taken into account but the ‘most contentious parts stayed in’ said BAJ.

Under the draft law On Mass Media the list of violations for which an official warning could be issued for the editorial office, is vague and unlimited. A newspaper can be closed even after one warning. A judge, a prosecutor or even an official of any district capital can issue a warning.