OSCE is concerned with pressurization of media in Belarus

2010 2010-05-11T19:01:12+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/abse.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

An OSCE representative slams persecution of the Belarusian journalists and criminal cases against charter97.org website.

On Monday, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, expressed concern about recent reports of pressure against independent media in Belarus, the OSCE press-service reports.

‘Intimidation of journalists exerts a 'chilling' effect on already weakened investigative journalism in Belarus’, she said in a letter to the Foreign Minister of Belarus, Siarhei Martynau.

‘The authorities should vigorously investigate cases of harassment and honor their OSCE commitments to protect the media’, the document reads.

Most recently, journalists who had reported on the so-called ‘hunters' case’ were persecuted by law enforcement agencies. In March Natallia Radzina, the editor of the Charter’97 website, Iryna Khalip, Minsk correspondent of the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, and Sviatlana Kalinkina and Maryna Koktysh of the daily Narodnaya Volia were interrogated, their apartments and offices raided and their equipment and materials confiscated, with Natallia Radzina assaulted during the search. On 28 April, investigators informed the journalists that their computers would be examined further to obtain access to their e-mail and Skype accounts.

‘I already brought the attention of the Belarusian authorities to these cases in March. I am concerned that the pressure on them has recently increased, even though the four media workers are not suspects but merely witnesses in the ongoing investigation’, said Mijatovic.

In the letter the OSCE representative also criticized the recently launched criminal defamation investigation against the Charter’97 website based on its users' comments to an article published last year in Sovetskaya Byelorussiya.

Mijatovic also expressed disappointment that Internet legislation was adopted without public consultation and offered the assistance of her Office to review the new bylaws.

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