22 June 2018, Friday, 21:50
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Reporters Without Borders Demand To Lift Charges Against Belsat Cameraman

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ANDREI KOZEL

Using physical force against a journalist is a variant of censorship.

Human rights organization Reporters without Borders (RSF) condemns the cases of using physical violence against journalists and bloggers in Belarus, the organization's official website reports.

It is noted in the statement of Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, that Reporters Without Borders consider the cases of using physical force against journalists as deliberate censorship.

The organization separately mentioned the incident with cameraman for Belsat TV Andrei Kozel, who was forcibly detained after refusing to interrupt a live report for his Facebook page at voting station No. 27. He was charged with refusing to comply with police orders and spent the night in the center for isolation of law-breakers.

The day after the incident Kozel, who had a badly bruised forehead, said in the Central District Court of Minsk that the police beat him, banged his head against a glass door until the glass smashed, and then denied him medical attention while he was in their custody. The court told the police to re-examine the case.

“We call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately lift the charges against Andrei Kozel, and an impartial investigation must be carried out into the unacceptable violence to which he was subjected and into the other violations of the freedom to inform during the polling,” - said Johann Bihr.

Belarus is ranked 153rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.