Department of Corrections afraid of publicity?
The Department of Corrections of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus did not allow an independent journalist in Vitsebsk region to visit the penitentiary system facilities. An application for this kind of inspection was lodged with the Department by a Vitsebsk member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Kanstantsin Mardvintsau. "The heads of the Department consider it inappropriate to allow your visit to the penal colonies of the correctional system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus", says first deputy head of the Department, Mr. Pratsenka, in his reply to the applicant.
Kanstantsin Mardvintsau was going to visit one of the correctional facilities in Vitsebsk region to see the way of life and the conditions of detention and then prepare a story material for publication in the media. According to the journalist, the staff of the Department of Corrections, depriving him of the opportunity to visit the colony, violated Article 36 of the Law "On Mass Media", which guarantees the right of citizens to receive and impart information.
"Explaining why I cannot visit the colony, deputy head of the Department of Corrections even referred to the law, Part 2, Article 22 of the Criminal Executive Code. But let's see what they say in the said part of the Code: "Representatives of the media and other persons are entitled to a right to visit institutions executing the punishment, with the permission of the administration of these institutions or the relevant higher authorities that execute the punishment." Thus, I have the right to visit the colony. And I sent my application to the right address, to a "higher authority." Surprisingly, where did Mr. Pratsenka see here a reason to deprive me of my rights I own under the articles he himself mentions? The actions of the Department of Corrections are an outrage not based on law. Perhaps they have something to hide from the public if they are afraid to let journalists in prisons," said Kanstantsin Mardvintsau.