“A journalist, Andrzej Poczobut, is at risk of being sentenced to five years imprisonment in Belarus after being arrested for criticizing the Belarusian President. He is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression,” an urgent statement of human rights organisation Amnesty International says.
In his articles, Andrzej Poczobut criticized the process and decision in the criminal case of Uladzislau Kavaliou and Dzmitry Kanavalau, who were executed in March 2012 in connection with a series of bomb attacks in Belarus. He also criticized President Lukashenka’s stance towards the European Union and the Belarusian authorities’ response to a wave of “silent protests” in the country. On 21 June, his apartment was searched and his computer and documents were confiscated.
Amnesty International believes that Andrzej Poczobut’s arrest is part of a longstanding pattern of harassment of civil society activists and journalists by the Belarusian authorities. Following the Presidential elections in December 2010, there has been an unprecedented deterioration in the human rights situation in the country. Key opposition figures have been detained, ill-treated and convicted in unfair trials. Critical NGOs, civil society activists and journalists face continuing harassment.
Amnesty International appeals to the public for immediately writing in Belarusian, Russian or another language calling on the Belarusian authorities to release Andrzej Poczobut immediately and unconditionally and urging them to guarantee the right to freedom of expression in line with their international human rights obligations, including Article 19 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.
it should be recalled that the right to freedom of expression in Belarus is guaranteed in Article 33 of the Belarusian Constitution, and international treaties Belarus has ratified and therefore is legally bound to observe.