Detention for taking photos is a law violation
Lawyer Pavel Sapelka commented on the incident with the detention of a journalist of “Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi”, Dzmitry Lasko, for photographing the facade of the Academy of Sciences.
Policemen detained theat the police station until midnight and made him write an explanatory note. They also considered the question of seizing the memory card of his camera. Herewith, they referred to a recent regulation of the Minister of the Interior, which prohibits photographing a number of public and administrative buildings.
According to lawyer Pavel Sapelka, in accordance with Article 23 of the Constitution, the restriction of rights and freedoms shall be permitted only in cases stipulated by law, in the interests of national security, public order, morality, health, rights and freedoms of others. The provisions of the first paragraph of Article 23 reinforce the principle of proportionality of restrictions on rights and freedoms of the individual, which correspond to the standards of the rule of law.
"Any ban, as well as a limitation of the rights and freedoms must be enshrined in a legislative act that has legal force and spreads its action on a particular range of subjects. This prohibition can only be set to achieve certain goals: to protect national security, public order, morality, health, rights and freedoms of others," said Pavel Sapelka.
The lawyer expresses doubt that this ban is set properly and is proportional to what it seeks to protect. Pavel Sapelka believes that, as far as violation of the ban in this case hasn't been declared an offense, detaining an individual for such actions violates the law, because in accordance with Art. 8.2. of the Process-Executive Code of Administrative Offenses of Belarus the administrative detention of an individual is an actual short-term restriction of the freedom of an individual, against whom there are instigated administrative proceedings for an offense, quotes Salidarnasc.
BAJ press service reminds that on February 26 an journalist of "Komsomolskaya Pravda" in Belarus "Dzmitry Lasko, who was going to take a picture of the new lighting of the building of the Academy of Sciences, was arrested first by a guard of the building and then by a police patrol. He had to spend about four hours at the Pershamaiski District Police Department, where the police checked his documents, looked through all photos and drew up a report of questioning.
On March 1, guards of the Embassy of the Russian Federation, to which concerned people brought flowers to commemorate the killed Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, prohibited journalists to take photos.
On March 2 in the town of Hlybokaye (Vitsebsk region) an independent journalist, member of the NGO "Belarusian Association of Journalists" Dzmitry Lupach was not let in Hlybokaye District Executive Committee with his Nikon camera. The policeman stated that entrance to the executive committee with professional photo cameras was banned by an order of the manager of the executive committee.
On March 7, police detained Minsk tourists in the town of Iuye (Hrodna region) for photographing administrative buildings in the city center. The policemen seized their passports, asked to show them the photos and delete those of the prosecutor's office, the fire department, the executive committee, the library and the registrar. After deleting pictures a policeman returned the passports and apologized for the inconvenience.
Meanwhile, March 6 the Ministry of Interior gave an official commentary to the state news agency BelTA that it was not obliged to present to journalists its internal documents. “Such requirement is aimed only at ensuring security in the country and increasing the vigilance of police officers in terms of preventing possible threats of different nature: from provocation to terrorist acts," commented a representative of the Ministry of Interior.