Rights specialists decry ‘black gap’ for media freedoms in Belarus

The 5 Particular Rapporteurs expressed outrage on the arrest, alleged torture and compelled confession of opposition journalist Roman Protasevich (Raman Pratasevich), who was arbitrarily detained on 23 Might in a case that sparked worldwide condemnation. 

Mr Protasevich, 26, was on a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania that was forcibly diverted to the Belarusian capital, Minsk, because of a supposed bomb menace.  

‘Reckless’ arrest, reported torture 

He was arrested when the passengers disembarked and reportedly charged with inciting public dysfunction and social hatred, within the wake of the disputed August 2020 presidential election, which noticed longtime chief Alexander Lukashenko returned to energy, sparking months of mass protests. 

“The reckless method during which Roman Protasevich was arrested, studies that he could have been tortured with a view to extract a false confession, was denied entry to his lawyer, and fears that he might face a harsh sentence present an utter disregard for worldwide human rights norms by the authorities in Belarus,” the UN specialists stated. 

The unbiased specialists expressed deep concern for Mr Protasevich’s life and referred to as for his rapid launch, and that of different journalists, human rights defenders and activists detained in Belarus. 

‘Extreme and relentless crackdown’ 

“The outrageous method during which Mr. Protasevich was intercepted and arrested reveals that there isn’t any restrict to what this authorities will do to silence critics. It’s an egregious instance of a extreme and relentless crackdown on all unbiased voices because the contested election outcomes of August 2020,” they added. 

They recalled that final month the authorities raided the places of work of Tut.by, the nation’s largest unbiased on-line information website, which had coated protests following the election outcomes. Searches have been additionally carried out on the properties of a number of workers members, and paperwork have been confiscated. 

No less than 13 workers have been reportedly detained, a few of whom didn’t have entry to a lawyer, allegedly in reference to a legal investigation into tax evasion.  Final December, the positioning was stripped of its media license, supposedly for spreading “false data”. 

“Current occasions point out that media freedom in Belarus has entered a black gap with no sign of ending”, the specialists stated. 

“Within the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and in its aftermath, the authorities have arbitrarily detained and crushed journalists, opposition members, human rights defenders and residents taking part in peaceable protests, prosecuted them on politically motivated costs, revoked media employees’ accreditation, raided their properties and places of work, and blocked their web sites.” 

Step up strain

The specialists have additionally expressed severe concern over latest amendments to the legal guidelines on mass media and on mass gatherings, which permit the authorities to dam the work of any media outlet that publishes content material which “threatens nationwide safety”.   

Equally, the authorities may also block entry to web sites that disseminate data that’s “geared toward selling extremist exercise” or which is “able to harming the nationwide curiosity”. 

They urged international locations “to ramp up strain on the Belarusian authorities to cease assaults on media freedom, launch journalists, human rights defenders and others who’re arbitrarily detained; and guarantee unbiased, clear and neutral investigations into all reported human rights violations dedicated within the context of the election, together with allegations of torture and arbitrary detention.”  

Function of Particular Rapporteurs

The 5 Particular Rapporteurs who issued the assertion monitor points such because the state of affairs of human rights in Belarus, in addition to the rights to freedom of peaceable meeting and affiliation worldwide. 

They have been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, which is predicated in Geneva, and usually are not UN workers nor are they paid by the Group.

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