On September 4, 2020, the Kastrychnitski court of Minsk sentenced journalists Nadzeya Kalinina and Aliaksei Sudnikau (TUT.BY), Maria Eleshevich, Siarhei Shchehaliou, and Mikita Dubaleka (Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belarusi), and Andrei Shauluha (BelaPAN) to 3 days of jail. The court recognized them as participants in unauthorized protest actions. The journalists were released as their terms were completed.
The trials were held in total disregard of the fair trial standards.
The Belarusian Association of journalists is outraged by the court rulings and the way they were issued. Equating journalists with protesters is unacceptable and defies the norms of law.
The laws on Mass Media and on Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus entitle journalists to attend mass events. In full compliance with these laws, the detained and prosecuted journalists wore PRESS badges and vests, and had press IDs with them.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists draws attention to the fact that Minister of Internal Affairs Yury Karayeu has repeatedly stated that it is unacceptable to interfere with the work of journalists: "I have always spoken against any forms of violence against journalists. I support civilized coverage of events. The press is sacred. Whatever [the journalist], one can't touch them." However, in practice, these words are either ignored or disagree with the real instructions to the officers.
We demand to:
- stop violations of the rights of journalists and mass media, and even more so, violence against journalists, as well as peaceful protesters;
- reconsider these court rulings and punish those who impeded the work of journalists.