OSCE media freedom representative urges Belarusian government to reform media regulations

2013 2013-06-04T21:52:27+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/dunja-mijatavicz.jpg
Dunja Mijatovic

Dunja Mijatovic

There is an urgent need to reform and liberalize Belarus’ media regulations, Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, said in Minsk on Tuesday while meeting with members of the country’s lower parliamentary chamber, the House of Representatives.

“I say this with full respect of the Belarusian authorities, but at the same time, my role it to emphasize and remind the authorities of their OSCE media freedom commitments,” she said.

Ms. Mijatovic said that her office had earlier made a legal evaluation of Belarus’ Media Law, and that the law should be revised.

She expressed hope that members of the House of Representatives would use their “expertise in order to push media reforms in a right direction.”

Mikalai Samaseika, who chairs the Committee on International Affairs in the House of Representatives, told reporters prior to the meeting that Belarus expected Dunja Mijatovic to be impartial and ready for an equal and open dialogue.

“Belarus is open for such a dialogue in all areas,” Mr. Samaseika said. “We hope that this stance will be accepted by the European Union. Such a dialogue is the way of the future because an analysis of the EU’s sanctions and ultimatums against Belarus has showed them to be counterproductive.”

After visiting Belarus, Ms. Mijatovic should form an impartial opinion about the situation in the country based on her own observations and not allegations by the “so-called opposition,” Mr. Samaseika said.

Dunja Mijatovic arrived in Belarus on Monday for a three-day official visit. She was to have meetings with high-ranking Belarusian officials, including Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei and representatives of the Presidential Administration, the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, the Supreme Court of Belarus. She is also to meet with leaders of the Belarusian Association of Journalists and the pro-government Belarusian Union of Journalists, journalists and civil society activists.

Ms. Mijatovic's previous visit to Belarus came in October 2010. She also wanted to come to the country shortly after a brutal crackdown on a post-election demonstration in Minsk on December 19, 2010, during which hundreds of people were arrested, including journalists Iryna Khalip and Natallia Radzina. She appealed twice to the then foreign minister, Siarhei Martynau, to arrange for her to visit Minsk, but received no reply.

Ms. Mijatovic has repeatedly criticized the Belarusian authorities for stifling media freedom and persecuting journalists working for non-state media outlets.