Journalist Association accused of breaking the law

The Belarusian Ministry of Justice claims that the country’s independent Association of Journalists, BAJ, is in breach of the countries laws. On 15 January, BAJ received an official warning for a number of alleged crimes. BAJ has a Legal Centre for the Protection of the Media but its activities are not in accordance with the organisations statutes, according to the Ministry’s warning. It is also claimed that the objectives that BAJ list on their website are in breach of the statutes. However, BAJ’s Chairman has difficulty understanding the allegations.

“There is no clarification about which objectives are not in agreement with which paragraphs in the statutes,” says Zjanna Litvina, BAJ’s Chairman, in a press release.

On BAJ’s membership card, it says “Press”, which according to the Ministry of Justice is not permitted since the organisation is not part of the mass media. This is against the Media Act, writes the Ministry.

“The Ministry itself states that BAJ is not a mass media organisation. So it is difficult to understand how a non-state organisation can be in breach of the Media Act,” says Andrej Bastunets, Deputy Chairman in BAJ.

The Ministry of Justice demands that BAJ, within one month, recalls all of the organisation’s ID cards and takes action on all the other crimes as well as present a report on this to the Department.

“One can only speculate if this is a consequence of BAJ’s increasingly successful efforts to spread information on the media’s situation and the human rights situation in Belarus in the international arena,” says Erik Esbjörnson, Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders.

Categories: News.
Tags: Belarusian Association of Journalists and Media Law.
Regions: Belarus.