Freelance journalist files individual communication with UN Human Rights Committee
A journalist from Homel, Mikalai Biamko, has filed an individual communication with the UN Human Rights Committee, seeking protection of his right to receive an impart information.
Before this, he spent about a year challenging an official warning of the Homel Regional Prosecutor's Office, which called him and his wife Yuliya Sivets journalists for foreign media, working in Belarusian without accreditation.
Let us remind that on March 5, 2014, the first deputy prosecutor of Homel region Vadzim Sushchynski issued a warning to the members of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Mikalai Bianko and Yuliya Sivets for the news on Radio “Racyja”, signed by their names.
The appealing of the warning to the General Prosecutor's Office brought no results – the freelancers are still accused of working for the foreign media. The Judge Maryna Damnenka of the Tsentralny District Court of Homel dismissed Mikalai Bianko's appeal too. She also refused to admit to the trial his counsel, BAJ lawyer Leanid Sudalenka, though he had been allowed to represent the journalists' rights at the prosecutor's office. The higher courts, to which the verdict was then appealed, sided with the prosecutor's office. Meanwhile, the panel of judges on civil cases of the Homel Regional Court considered the journalist's appeal in his absence, without informing him about the time and place of the hearing. Thus, apart from violation of his right to receive and impart information, the journalist was deprived of the right to legal defense and trial in his presence, as guaranteed by articles 14 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Mikalai Bianko asks the UN Human Rights Committee to oblige Belarus to bring the national media law into conformity with international obligations. It is worth noting in the case of registration of the complaint, the Government of Belarus will have to find answers to the questions why freelance journalist are subject to the provisions of national law on the media, as well as why the citizens haveno right freely to choose defense counsel and the right to be judged in their presence.