Updated at 23:19,25-10-2016

OSCE Concerned over Pressure on Independent Media

The OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Dunja Mijatovic, has written to Belarusian Foreign Minister Syarhey Martynaw to express concern about the reported harassment of independent journalists and recent cabinet directives governing the use of the Internet.

In her May 10 letter to the minister, Ms. Mijatovic noted that "intimidation of journalists exerts a 'chilling' effect on already weakened investigative journalism in Belarus." "The authorities should vigorously investigate cases of harassment and honour their OSCE commitments to protect the media," the letter said.

The OSCE representative expressed concern over what she described as the persecution of journalists Maryna Koktysh, Svyatlana Kalinkina, Iryna Khalip and Natallya Radzina, who have been repeatedly questioned and had their offices raided over a "hunting case" pitting the police against the Committee for State Security.

"I am concerned that the pressure on them has recently increased, even though the four media workers are not suspects but merely witnesses in the ongoing investigation," the letter said.

Ms. Mijatovic expressed disappointment that the recent directives on the use of the Internet had been adopted without consultation with the public and offered to organize a roundtable meeting with the participation of governmental representatives, civil society and international experts to discuss them.