Independent Journalists From Homel Lodged Complaints With Prosecutor General
Three Homel-based freelance journalists – Natallia Kryvashej, Larysa Schyrakova and Kanstantsin Zhukouski – have filed complaints to Prosecutor General Aliaksandr Kaniuk. They challenge the decrees of the court concerning heavy fines for cooperation with a satellite TV channel Belsat which broadcasts in Belarusian, Radio Svaboda informs.
Natallia is to pay Br24.3 million, Larysa – Br3.6 million, and Kanstantsin – Br31.5 million to the budget. Officially the freelancers were fined by courts on the grounds of a police reports for filming different items on social issues, and later they were used by TV channel Belsat. Taking videos by the freelancers allegedly falls under Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code – violation of the Law on Mass media, and in particular – making mass media production without being accredited by the Belarusian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
As believed by a Homel human rights activist, a lawyer of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Leanid Sudalenka, who had helped to prepare the complaints, in the administrative cases of independent journalists the judges “have taken a responsibility for challenging Article 23 and 24 of the Constitution of Belarus, and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the Belarusian state.”
The decrees of the court to punish the freelance journalists have been issued by judges: of Rahachou district – Aliaksandr Krajnikau; of Buda-Kashaliou district – Uladzimir Prakapenka; Homel region – Aliaksandr Lisouski; Central district of Homel – Aksana Osipava, Maryna Damnenka, Viktar Kazachok; Chyhunachny district – Mikalai Bakunou.
The chairman of Homel regional court Siarhei Shautsou, judges Vasily Biahun, Anatoly Sotnikau, Mikalai Dolia, and the deputy chairman of the Supreme Court Ruslan Aniskevich found no violations of journalists’ rights when they revised the decrees about fines.
The fined journalists from Homel say that it is to depend on the reaction to their complaints with the Prosecutor General’s Office whether they will file appeals to the UN Human Rights Committee.