Law machinery to conceal information about criminal cases

2008 2008-10-13T21:27:25+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

According to a new ruling mass media would not be able to receive information about celebrated criminal cases without written permission of the judge who tries it. As written in the Yurist magazine, the general procuracy, the State Control Committee, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, KGB and the Ministry of Justice have determined the order of informing mass media about celebrated criminal cases and the crimes that ‘undermine the authority of the state power’.

According to the joint ruling of the abovementioned state agencies of 1 October 2008, #59/283/49/52 (registration number 8/19576 of 9 October 2008) the notion ‘celebrated criminal cases’ denotes the crimes which cause a large public resonance, are actively discussed in mass media and on the websites registered on the territory of Belarus and the notion ‘crimes that undermine the authority of state power’ denotes the crimes committed by state officials (including corruption) and also crimes against state officials or the state in general, crimes against public security and health, crimes against peace and safety of the humanity and war crimes.

Such cases will be found by investigative organs by monitoring of publications and comments in mass media and on the web.

From now on the right to present any information for publication belongs only to the agencies of criminal prosecution and the courts who try the appropriate cases, and also their superior organs and courts. After a verdict comes into legal force, the information on the appropriate case can be given by any organ of criminal prosecution or any court within the limits of their competency.

The aforementioned ruling prohibits publicizing any information on criminal cases in the process of investigation without the written consent of the judge. Investigators, procurators and judges are given the right to prohibit showing them on the TV and publishing their photos in order to protect their security and prevent the possible interference with the process of investigation.

If a mass media publishes inaccurate information on a criminal case, the court that tries this case has the right to demand that the information be disproved. If a mass media publishes inaccurate information on a criminal case more than once a year, the case against it will be passed to the Ministry of Information.

Actually, this ruling considerably restricts the civil right to receive free and timely information. It also further complicates the conditions for work of mass media, thus restricting the freedom of expression.