On Rules and Ethics of Coverage in Court
The law allows taking photo and video before a court hearing starts, wherever it takes place.
The deputy chairperson of the Supreme Court Valery Kalinkovich answered questions at a press-conference on February 19.
The deputy chairperson of criminal collegium asserted that the right to make photo and video recordings does not depend on the status of a criminal, civil or administrative case. Valery Kalinkovich underlined that every participant of a court hearing has the right to motion to stop recordings in the run of the process.
Besides, the judge can on one’s own make a decision to restrict coverage due to confidentiality of case materials so as to protect the participants of the case.
Valery Kalinkovich reminded that journalists must provide comprehensive and precise coverage of a trial, with all details and circumstances of the case. The deputy chairperson thinks that lately the media have started to often give one-sided views of court cases, failing to display alternative views of this or that case.
The deputy chairperson reminded of the presumption of innocence: the media must not issue a verdict themselves ahead of the judge. Otherwise journalists shouldn’t get offended by dignity and honor lawsuits against them, Valery Kalinkovich says. “We don’t have now a “padsudny” person (which might be an equivalent of a “person on trial”, a “culprit”). We have an accused person who is a “defendant” until the judicial decision comes into legal force, after which the person is called a “convict”. Forget about the “padsudny” term, it’s been absent for 12 years" (from the Criminal Procedure Code).
We should remind that last year several cases happened were journalists were forced out of court for trying to take pictures before the hearing. The last such incident took place on September 19 in a minsk ocurt during an administrative trial over pre-election picketers calling for boycott.