OSCE media representative reiterates call for end to harassment of the media in Belarus

The FINANCIAL -- The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, called on February 1 once again on the Belarusian government to stop harassing independent journalists and media outlets. She also said she regretted that the authorities did not make her proposed visit possible in January.

"Mijatovic suggested the visit to discuss with officials the deteriorating media freedom situation and the fate of journalists Natallya Radzina and Iryna Khalip, who were indicted and arrested in the wake of the 19 December presidential election," OSCE says.

Both were released from custody at the end of last week, but Khalip remains under house arrest and Radzina has been ordered not to travel outside the city in which she is registered as a resident.

"The Belarusian government's decision to release Radzina and Khalip from custody is far from enough. To live up to their OSCE media freedom commitments, the Belarusian authorities should clear the two journalists of all charges and set them free. They should also put an end to detentions, searches and all other forms of harassment of the media," Mijatovic said.

Scores of reporters have been detained, questioned or searched in the past six weeks. Security officers have raided the editorial offices of several independent media outlets, confiscating computers, video cameras, DVDs and other equipment. In addition, the Minsk-based Autoradio radio station had its broadcast license cancelled.

"I wrote to Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergey Martynov twice in January, asking him to facilitate my visit by the end of the month. It is unfortunate that this was not made possible despite the Belarusian authorities' earlier assurances that they are committed to continue working with OSCE institutions. My office always stands ready to assist Belarus in implementing its OSCE obligations," Mijatovic said.


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