New report on the violence against journalists in Belarus

According to a newly released report, the behaviour of the Belarusian authorities after the Presidential election in December, 2010, shows that the Belarusian Government does not fulfill the country’s obligations regarding freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

During the night on the 19th of December, 2010, the law enforcement officials injured 17 journalists by using excessive force. Several of the journalists state that they had been beaten with batons. Among those were Anton Kharchenko and Viktor Filyaev, reporting for the TV-channel ”Russia Today”, who received multiple hits in their faces.

The law enforcement officials also used other types of violence. The journalist Olga Hvoin was reporting from the Independence square when a police officer took a stranglehold round her throat and then pushed onto the roadway. The AP-journalist Yuri Karmanov tried to shield himself by showing his press card, officially accredited by the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but nevertheless he was physically assaulted.

The information compiled by the International Observing Mission is mainly retrieved from the independent organisation “Belarusian Association of Journalists” (BAJ).

As a member of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and the UN, Belarus is obliged to ensure that journalists can work without restrictions. The journalists’ right to cover events should be protected by the law-enforcement authorities, regardless of the events legal status.

On the 19th of December 23 journalists were arrested and detained. Six journalists face criminal charges of having organised or participated in mass riots – Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code.

The Belarusian law also states that it is a crime to obstruct a journalist from doing his job. This, however, did not prevent that several reporters had their equipment confiscated or destroyed.

Categories: Reports.
Tags: Belarusian Association of Journalists, Freedom of assembly, Freedom of expression, Presidential election 2010, and Violence against journalists.
Regions: Belarus.