OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media called upon the authorities of Belarus to cease the interference into the media sphere.
During her visit to Minsk Dunja Mijatovic visited the Belarusian Association of Journalists and the office of “Narodnaya Volya” newspaper, met with the journalists who are under criminal prosecution for criticism of the authorities – Natallya Radzina, Svetlana Kalinkina, Iryna Khalip, Maryna Koktysh. Dunja Mijatovic was also received by the Foreign Minister Siarhei Martynau and the Information Minister – Aleh Pralyaskousky, the Central Electoral Commission Head Lidziya Yarmoshina.
Mijatovic is convinced that Belarus urgently needs a revision of the media legislation, as nowadays this sphere is practically in the legitimate subordination to the state:
“It is not a secret, that there is no pluralism in the Belarusian mass media at all. It is limited to print media, and remains under threat in the Internet. I called upon the representatives of the authority to remove all administrative restrictions on Belarusian media, announced to my official interlocutors that a practice of issuing cautions to newspapers up to their closure paralyses the press activity”,- Mijatovic said.
For the moment, as Dunja Mijatovic says, there are no signs of democracy in Belarus in the sphere of media. The confirmation – a broad practice of impleading of journalists, who to the view of the authorities, “abuse” their powers:
“The most important moment, which I underline in all participant countries – participants of OSCE, - is the necessity of abolition of criminal prosecution for libel. It is the first step which any country can make in order to give its citizens a possibility to express their opinion freely and live in a free society. Deprive them from criminal responsibility for libel, for some provocation or satirical utterances. Libel should not be subject to criminal prosecution and journalists should not be kept in prison for a pronounced or written word. Court – is the only place where the cases on libel are to be examined. But not governmental offices”, - Dunja Mijatovic stated.