On Tuesday Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, has expressed concern about an increasing number of penalties imposed in recent months on Belarusian journalists who cooperate with foreign media outlets that have no accreditation status in Belarus.
‘I am concerned because this practice can effectively ban journalists from reporting,’ Ms Mijatović said. ‘Yesterday’s court decision against Andrey Mialeshka underscores the need to address the issue now.’
On Monday, a judge of Kastrychnitski District Court in Hrodna sentenced Mr Mialeshka to a fine of 4.5 million rubels ($443) over his cooperation with Polish-based Radio Racyja, Ms Mijatović said. The sentence followed a prosecutorial warning.
Earlier this year, Ales Zaleuski and Ales Dzianisau, reporters for Belsat TV, were also sentenced to fines. Ms Mijatović listed five other Belarusian journalists who had received warnings from prosecutor’s offices this year, namely, Sviatlana Stsiapanava, Yauhen Skrabets, Yuliya Sivets, Mikalay Bianko, and Yury Dziashuk.
‘Accreditation should not be a license to work and the lack of it should not restrict journalists in their ability to work and express themselves freely,’ Ms Mijatović stressed. ‘All journalists should have the same professional rights as journalists employed with registered media outlets, including the right to seek and disseminate information.’
According to Ms Mijatović, she wrote to Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey on June 5, calling for amendments to Belarus’ media accreditation regulations.
It is to be recalled that in March, 2013 Belsat TV made its third attempt to get a formal accreditation and filed all the necessary documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But in vain: the Ministry’s officers refused to register its correspondent office in Minsk referring to Belsat contributors’ alleged law violations. As our journalists and contributors have to perform their professional duties without any accreditation they repeatedly draw fire from public officers.
www.belsat.eu/en, following BelaPAN