UN Special Rapporteur: Media Freedom In Belarus Impossible

29 October 2015 / By Charter 97

Media freedom in Belarus is impossible because of the authorization system of registration and arbitrary rules of revoking licences. It was one of the conclusions of the report on the freedom of expression, which is to be presented by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti at the UN General Assembly session on October 29, BelaPAN informs.

According to the Legal Transformation Centre, beside the conclusions, the report includes recommendations, which aim is to support Belarus in the cause of respecting both the freedom of expression, enshrined in the Constitution of the country, and its international obligations. “The conclusions in the report show that the system of ruling mass media outlets, which had been created over the past two decades, has in fact suppressed exercising the right for freedom of expression and information,” the report of the Centre reads.

The main conclusions made by Miklós Haraszti are: mass media pluralism does not exist; Belarus is the only country in Europe without private companies of nationwide broadcasting network; the government acts as a direct regulator of all mass media types; critical comments and investigations are suppressed by criminalization of the content, which is viewed as “harmful for the state,” via illegal defamation and libeling laws, which protect state officials, and the president in particular, from the public control.

The system-level violations of the right for freedom of expression are deepened by systematic crackdown on journalists, who resist the denial to exercise their rights, the UN Special Rapporteur noted. The amendments to the Law on Mass media, adopted in December 2014, cause a special concern, as they are related to the last outpost of freedom of expression – the Internet

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