Ministry of Information says it has no powers to interfere in professional activities of the media
Homel human rights activists Maryia Klimovich and Ales Yauseyenka have received a response to their appeal to the Information Ministry. The applicants asked the Ministry to inform the editors of state owned media in any way possible about the inadmissibility of indicating the nationality of perpetrators of crimes and consciously shaping the image of a "criminal nation".
The activists decided to appeal to the ministry due to the publication of insulting articles concerning the Belarusian Roma in the state-owned media through such unacceptable generalizations as "If you see a Roma – call the police immediately".
Two years ago, the human rights activists had already appealed to the Ministry of Information, and the officials promised to discriminate in the situation. However, nothing has changed for this time.
In the response, signed by Deputy Minister V. Matusevich, it is stated that "Illegal restriction of freedom of the media, which is expressed in the intervention in the sphere of professional independence of the legal person which is not the editor in chief of the media, is inadmissible". According to it, "editor in chief of the media makes the final decision regarding the release of the media".
"In this regard, public authorities, including the Ministry of Information, are not competent to interfere in the professional activities of the media and journalists," is noted in the response of the ministry.
V. Matusevich also reminded the human rights defenders that natural and legal persons have the right to appeal to the courts for protection of their honor, dignity or business reputation.
The Ministry further stated that a special talk was held with the head of the media division of the department of ideological work, culture and youth affairs of the Homel Regional Executive Committee V. Rabikava in order to eliminate unjustified criticism of the Roma community in the media. She was pointed at the need for the organization of the work with the media in strict compliance with the law and the formation of a society of respect and tolerance for people of different nationalities.