11 and 12 May courts of Mahilou and Hlybokaye sentenced reporters, BAJ members, Ales Asiptsou, Mikhail Arshynski, Alexander Burakou and Zmitser Lupach to 10 days of administrative arrest for alleged participation in unauthorized protests that they had been covering.
Numerous sentences of arrest were passed on bloggers and even people who had been interviewed by journalists and bloggers.
Belarusian Association of Journalists strongly protests against prosecution of its members.
Law of the Republic of Belarus "On Mass Media" entitles journalists to be present at mass events, in emergency areas, at places of socially important events and pass on information from there. Thus, the journalists had the right to be present at the events and perform their work there.
Prosecution of colleagues for performance of their professional duties draws a strong protest in the journalists' community. We believe the use of administrative arrest as a penalty during the COVID-19 pandemic is especially cynical as it puts the health of the journalists at serious risk.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists calls for an urgent review of the administrative cases of the journalists and other persons who have been prosecuted for expressing their opinion, and for their immediate release.