Raad van Europa veroordeelt Wit-Rusland

Het rapport van de Commissie Cultuur, Wetenschap, Onderwijs en Media over de stand van zaken in Europa tav mediavrijheid veroordeelt Wit-Rusland scherp en eist onder meer onderzoek naar de dood van Oleg Bebenin en Dmitry Zavadsky.

Zie: rapport PACE

Citaten uit rapport over Wit-Rusland

12. The Assembly condemns the persistent and systematic violation of media freedom in the Republic of Belarus and reminds its government of its obligations under Articles 9, 19 and 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. With Belarus being a candidate country for membership of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Cultural Convention, the acquis of the Council of Europe, including the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, constitutes a relevant frame of reference for the authorities in Belarus. In this context, the Assembly welcomes the new establishment by the United Nations Human Rights Council of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Republic of Belarus, and invites the Special Rapporteur to co-operate with the relevant committees of the Assembly.

13. The Assembly urges the authorities in the Republic of Belarus to properly investigate the disappearance of the photo journalist Dmitry Zavadsky in 2000 and the death of the founder of the news website “Charter 97” Aleh Byabenin in 2010, release immediately Ales Bialiatski from prison and Anton Suryapin from detention, waive the penalties for Iryna Khalip, Andrzej Poczobut, Pavel Sverdlov, Yulia Doroshkevich and Iryna Kozlik, drop the prosecution charges against Natalya Radina, Andrzej Poczobut, Pavel Yevtikheev, Andrey Tkachev, Roman Protasevich, Oleg Shramuk and Sergei Bespalov, and stop their practice of issuing administrative warnings to media and associations in accordance with the opinions of 17-18 December 2010 and 17-18 June 2011 adopted by the Venice Commission. 28. Expressing its concern at the official warning  addressed by the Justice Ministry of Belarus on 13 January 2010 to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), the Assembly asked in paragraph 14 of Recommendation 1897 (2010) the Venice Commission to analyse the compatibility of such a warning with universal human rights standards.

29. Responding to this request, the Venice Commission concluded in its Opinion of 17-18 December 2010:

“100. The Ministry of Justice’s Order has restricted the rights of a group of journalists to freedom of expression and the right to seek and impart information. To be able to enjoy freedom of expression of the press requires that journalists must have effective protection by their trade union or association. By denying the BAJ the right to issue  press cards for their journalists the Belarusian authorities are denying these journalists the rights to have their interests protected by their association At the same time the domestic legal situation is stripping the journalists’ association, the BAJ, of effective power to protect members’ interests.

101. The Ministry of Justice’s Order constitutes, in the opinion of the Venice Commission, a violation of Articles 19 and 2 of the ICCPR and Articles 11 and 10 of the ECHR.

102. Additionally, since the Ministry of Justice’s  Order creates a discriminatory situation, it also  constitutes a violation of Article 26 of the ICCPR, and Article 14 ECHR taken together with Article 10 of the ECHR, and Protocol No. 12 to the ECHR.”

30. A second Opinion adopted by the Venice Commission on 17-18 June 2011 came to the same conclusion with regard to official warnings against the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.

31. In 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council established the mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Republic of Belarus. Regrettably, Russia had voted against the establishment of this post and Moldova had abstained, while all other Council of Europe member States in the United Nations Human Rights Council had voted in favour. The Assembly should invite this Special Rapporteur to co-operate with the relevant Assembly committees.

34. Belarus 3 September 2010: Aleh Byabenin, director of the critical news website Charter 97, was found hanged at his summer house outside Minsk. His family reported signs of serious injuries on his body and rejected the official explanation of suicide. Byabenin had reported on cases of corruption and human rights abuses. He had previously received threats. In 2011 the Charter 97 website was reportedly one of those which were blocked by order of the government.

53. Before the presidential election in December 2010, the state’s overwhelming dominance of mainstream media including TV and newspapers and relentless harassment of critical and independent journalists, as well as other civil society representatives and political opponents, led to an international judgement that the election had failed every major test of fairness. In December 2010, immediately after the voting, six members of the non-governmental Belarusian Association of Journalists (Minsk) were indicted on what were seen as politically-motivated charges of organising mass protests against election fraud.

54. The offices of the opposition website Charter 97 were raided and computers and files were seized. Its editor, Natalya Radina, was detained for 39 days following her arrest on 19 December 2011 and then fled the country. This severe harassment of Charter 97 editorial members followed the suspicious death in 2010 of Aleh Byabenin, the website’s then editor.

55. Andrzej Poczobut, a correspondent for the Polish newspaper  Gazeta Wyborcza, was convicted on charges of insulting President Lukashenko. The prominent journalist Irina Khalip was found guilty of organising protests. Both were given suspended prison terms. Between May and July 2011, at least twelve reporters and media workers were detained or beaten by police while covering a fresh series of popular large-scale peaceful street protests, and police also seized cameras and broadcasting equipment. After 800 teddy bears had been dropped over Belarus from a plane as a political sign in July 2012, the three journalists Anton Suryapin, Yulia Doroshkevich and Iryna Kozlik were arrested for having disseminated photos of the bears as well as Sergey Bashamirov for allegedly having aided the pilots.