The work of the NGO “Belarusian Association of Journalists” in 2015 - 2017 focused on the statutory goals and objectives and the implementation of the Strategic Directions of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, which were adopted by its last Congress. In accordance with them, the main goal of BAJ is to expand the space for freedom of speech through the support of high-quality journalism demanded by the public, as well as the dissemination of truthful information.
The BAJ Congress notes that the situation with freedom of speech over the past three years in Belarus has failed to change towards democratization. Furthermore,
- since 2017, pressure from the authorities on independent journalism has increased, especially on freelance journalists, who are still outlawed in Belarus;
- changes have been introduced in the first reading in media legislation, which aim at increasing state control online; as before, the law was drafted without public discussion;
- the practice of using anti-extremism legislation and the Criminal Code to restrict freedom of expression and dissemination of information has been expanded.
The media in Belarus were also affected by the following factors:
- increasing influence of Russian propaganda; at the same time, measures taken by the Belarusian authorities to strengthen the country’s information security have proved insufficient and contradictory;
- the media consumption has changed, the number of media has increased significantly;
- access of journalists to information has become even more restricted.
The 10th Congress of BAJ affirms the need to:
- conduct public discussion on changes in media legislation before its adoption in the second reading, and to involve national and international experts to assess whether the proposed changes meet the international democratic standards;
- recognize at the legislative level the right of freelancers to collect and disseminate information in domestic and foreign mass media;
- defend the country's information security in the media space;
- promote the convergence of media, their development and professionalism.
The Congress decides to:
- recognize the work of the Council of the NGO "Belarusian Association of Journalists" as satisfactory;
- approve the Strategy of the NGO "Belarusian Association of Journalists” for 2018 - 2020 (attached);
- approve the amendments to the Code of Journalistic Ethics of BAJ proposed by the Ethics Commission (attached);
- adopted the Statement.