Friday, March 13, 2015

Belarus: Belarusian authorities called upon to lift ban on freelance journalists

12 March 2015
International Federation of Journalists

This statement was originally published on on 12 March 2015.

The European Federation of Journalists – an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists – has sent a letter to the Minister of Information of Belarus demanding the abolishment of a media law provision that forbids freelance journalists from practicing journalism in the country.

According to the Mass Media Law in Belarus, freelance journalists are banned from reporting in the country. The law only recognises employed journalists working for major media organisations in Belarus. Foreign journalists who are working in Belarus on assignment can also get press accreditations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus.

The EFJ proposed the government to organise a round table discussion with all relevant stakeholders including the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) in order to present draft amendments to the Belarusian law “On Mass Media”. The objective is to introduce the status of freelance journalists to the national legislation.

The EFJ has called on its affiliates to support the BAJ by sending similar letters of appeal to the Belarusian government.

John Toner, Chair of the EFJ Freelance Expert Group said: “We fully support BAJ in their efforts to overturn this law, which violates European press freedom standards. To outlaw freelance journalism is clearly incompatible with press freedom. Throughout Europe, freelance journalists are an ever more indispensable part of the journalists' community.”

For this reason, the EFJ also invited Ms Ananich, Belarusian Minister of Information, to discuss these issues in Brussels at the EFJ/IFJ headquarters.

See more information in the Belarusian Association of Journalists' 2014 newsletter.