Freelance journalists in Homieĺ appeal fine over “illegal interviews”
Freelance journalists Natallia Kryvashei and Kanstantsin Zhukouski, who were earlier fined 5.4 million rubles each for allegedly making “illegal interviews”, have filed their appeals to the Regional Court. They are asking the court to assess their actions under international law, as provided by Article 2 of the Law on Mass Media.
The freelance journalist, “who do not have accreditation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, illegally interviewed villagers of Buda-Halovickaja, Naroŭlia district, thereby unlawfully participated in the manufacturing of media products”. The video was later broadcast on the TV channel Belsat.
The freelancers stress that the Constitution guarantees them the right to collect and disseminate information. They admit that they really visited the district and interviewed villagers on local problems. The video was sent to various media, using a right guaranteed by the Constitution.
Local human rights activist Leanid Sudalenka, who helps journalists to file suits, says that the government violates the rights to freedom of expression through the collection and dissemination of information.
“The Belarusian national law on mass media says that if it is contrary to the norms of the international treaty, then it is the rules of an international treaty that should prevail. That is, it sets the priority of international law over national law. I understand that Belarusian courts are not trained to work with the international law, but it is a problem of the state, not of the individual citizen,” says the lawyer.
Natallia Kryvashei and Kanstantsin Zhukouski are going to go through all the courts, and if needed bring the dispute with the state on the international level through the UN Human Rights Committee.