Statement on the failure of the Belarusian MFA to review applications for accreditation filed by foreign media journalists

31.07.2020 Source: BAJ Press Service

Statement on the failure of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to review applications for accreditation filed by foreign media journalists.

Currently, the Belarusian Association of journalists is aware of 25 cases when journalists from various foreign media have applied to the Belarus' MFA for temporary accreditation to work in the country, but received no response within a 20-day period set for review of such applications.

As a result, foreign media journalists from these foreign media outlets cannot come to Belarus to do their work. Many of them had already covered the events in our country, and had been accredited by the MFA.

This is a breach of not only the national legislation of Belarus, but also of its obligations within the framework of international organizations.

The procedure of accreditation of foreign media journalists in the Republic of Belarus, approved by the Council of Ministers on 25.12.2008 provides that applications for permanent accreditation filed by foreign media journalists are to be reviewed by the MFA's accreditation commission within two months, while applications for temporary accreditation -- no later than 20 days from the date of receipt.

Similar rules are described in paragraphs 14.8 and 14.9 of the Unified list of administrative procedures carried out by state bodies and other organizations as it pertains to legal entities and individual entrepreneurs, approved by Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus No. 156 of 17.02.2012.

Within the framework of the OSCE, the Republic of Belarus has committed favour the further expansion of co-operation among mass media and their representatives, especially between the editorial staffs of press agencies, newspapers, radio and television organizations as well as film companies. 

Our state, just like other OSCE participating States, has made a commitment to facilitate travel by journalists from other participating States within its territory, inter alia by taking concrete measures where necessary, to afford them opportunities to travel more extensively.  

The failure to consider the applications filed by foreign media journalists in time during the presidential election in the conditions when the elections will be not monitored by the OSCE ODIHR, PACE and other recognized international organizations, as well as with significant restrictions on domestic observers, testifies to the refusal of the authorities from holding open and transparent elections, as enshrined in article 65 of the Constitution and article 13 of the Electoral code of the Republic of Belarus.

With this in mind, the Belarusian Association of Journalists calls on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus:

-  to consider all the received applications filed by foreign media journalists and grant accreditation in the shortest time possible;

- to stop the practice of not considering the applications of foreign media journalists;

- to comply with the national legislation and international obligations of the Republic of Belarus in the field of freedom of speech and the right to information.