Media Freedom in Belarus is the Weakest in EaP Region

2013 2013-09-06T16:47:57+0300 2013-09-06T16:47:57+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/litvina-bastunec.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhana Litvina and her deputy Andrei Bastunets

The head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhana Litvina and her deputy Andrei Bastunets

These were results of the pilot research EaP Mass Media Freedom Index which were announced today in the office of BAJ.

According to the general data of the Index, the most favorable conditions exist in Georgia. The second place went to Moldova, the third place – to Armenia, the forth place – to Ukraine, the fifth place – to Azerbaijan. Belarus occupies the last place.

The Index was prepared by the Internews-Ukraine within the project Media Freedom Watch in Eastern Region European Neighborhood Policy which became an initiative of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.

The Index was based on the survey of experts – 10 from each country – who assessed different aspects of media freedom according to a specific scale.

Besides, the experts offered recommendations for each country.

The Index is to be released quarterly for two years.


The index has four components – blocks “Politics”, “Practice”, “Broadcasting” and “Internet and new media”.

“The Index is the basis for developing general policies for EaP countries on how to reform the media sphere. Of course, each of the country is “unhappy in its own way” and even leaders of the Index – Georgia and Moldova – have their problems. They are painful, but still softer than ours,” said Zhanna Litvina, the chairperson of BAJ.

“It is clear that there are pretty many indexes, ratings prepared by international organizations. But in an all of them Belarus gets one of the worst scores,” said Andrei Bastunets, lawyer and deputy chair of BAJ. “But every country has its own conditions, and the larger the index is, the more subjective it becomes. Here we compare situations in the countries which had recently had similar legislative grounds, so it would be more adequate to compare them. Besides the Index is special because it was compiled by media experts who live in the countries assessed. And this is not an outer assessment, it is a kind of self-assessment. “

According to Mr Bastunets, each expert answered 55 questions from the four blocks, each question getting zero to three points, the more points the better.  “It was a little weird that even in the Internet and new media bloc Belarus turned out to be in the last place. Because we every time say that the web is the freest sphere among all others,” he said. “But if we have a look at the questions of the survey, everything will become clear: the questions concerned the law regulating the web, cases of prosecuting online activists, the monopoly of the state in providing connection services etc.”

 

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