Court in Brest dismisses appeal by freelance journalist
Journalist Ina Khomich attempted to challenge a decision by the Court of Brest’s Maskoŭski district, according to which she was fined 30 basic units (5.4 million) under Article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offences – “distribution and production of media products”.
In addition, in her appeal Ina Khomich urged the Regional Court to address the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court so that the latter assessed provisions of the media law regulating the work of foreign journalists, as well as the concept of “accreditation”. The freelancer recalled that the Constitution of Belarus guarantees citizens the right to receive, store and disseminate complete, reliable and timely information. In addition, Belarus signed and ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, according to which “everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or other media of his choice.”
The appeal was considered by Judge Mikhail Mokhar of the Brest Regional Court. According to his findings, the trial court “comprehensively, completely and objectively” examined the materials of the case against the independent journalist, and her guilt of the “illicit manufacture of media products” was completely proven.
The court order contains a link to a letter from the KGB, which says that Ina Khomich allegedly “made an interview”, prepared a publication and then posted it on the website of a foreign media. Similar messages were received from the Foreign Ministry of Belarus (the institution confirmed that Khomich was not accredited as a foreign journalist).
As for the journalist’s reference to the Constitution and international acts, it, according to the Brest Regional Court, gives “no reason to doubt the correctness of the court’s findings”.
Thus, the Brest Regional Court upheld the decision and dismissed the appeal.