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Justice Ministry to Fight Terrorism with Amendments to Law on Press

2006 2006-10-18T10:00:00+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The Law “About Press and Other Mass Media” is to be amended soon. The Ministry of Justice has proposed a draft law “on amending some laws of the Republic of Belarus in order to prevent terrorism”. According to the draft law, the Ministry proposes to amend Article 5 of the law on Press by the statement that mass media should not be used for “spreading information which serves to promote or justify terrorism”.

-- We have just sent the draft law to the Council of Ministers. Previously the draft received approval of all the interested parties: KGB, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Information, Prosecutor’s General Office and the Supreme Court, -- told an official with the Ministry of Justice to BAJ press-service.

At present the Law “About fighting terrorism” prohibits spreading of such information. However, the provision works only during the period of an anti-terrorist operation, -- deputy minister of Justice I. Tushynski points out in his response to BAJ letter. “At the same time, at present practically all radical organizations have their web-sites in the internet. International terrorists actively use information resources of the Internet for propaganda of their ideas, and publicizing materials justifying terrorists and their actions. Besides that, in a number of cases mass media covering trials on terrorism publish statements in defense of the indicted terrorists on their web-sites”, -- explains Tushynski the necessity to amend the law on Press.

Andrei Bastunets, deputy chairperson of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, comments: “The draft law reflects the general tendency – restriction of the freedom of expression. I don’t see why Belarus should introduce such norms into the law on press. The risk is not the amendment itself, but the way it is going to be used on practice. One could see such a risk even in the letter of the Ministry – that mass media might publicize speeches in support of the indicted terrorists. However, if the speeches were made during open trials, it is impossible to speak about “publicizing” (then publicizing happens during the trial). Secondly, one should remember that defendants still have a presumption of innocence and speeches in their defense are not the same as speeches in defense of terrorism”.

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