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General rapporteur on media freedom condemns brutal violations of human rights in Belarus and harsh treatment of journalists

Stefan / Schennach / Austria

Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on media freedom and the protection of journalists, has today strongly condemned police brutality against peaceful demonstrators in Belarus and the harsh treatment of journalists on the spot.

“At least 50 journalists were recently arbitrarily detained by the authorities. Moreover, they have withdrawn the press accreditation of journalists covering developments in Belarus for foreign media such as Reuters, BBC, AFP, ARD, RFI, RFE/RL, AP and others,” said Mr Schennach.

“I call on the Belarusian authorities to urgently reinstate the withdrawn press accreditations and to issue accreditation to any journalist going to Belarus,” said the rapporteur.

“Refusing to do this would suggest that the aim of the Belarusian authorities is to hide street protests which have followed the election and the human rights violations that have been perpetrated daily in the country since then. We have witnessed violations of the right to life, the prohibition on torture, the right to liberty and security, to a fair trial, to freedom of assembly and association, to fair elections, and of course, the right to freedom of expression, including freedom of information,” he added.

“I also call on the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, of which Belarus is a member, to take concrete action to end the ongoing human rights violations in Belarus and to encourage the lifting of the information blockade that has been imposed by the Belarusian authorities,” Mr Schennach added.

“We cannot stand by any longer as the people of Belarus continue to suffer these appalling injustices. We must make all possible efforts, and take all necessary actions, to protect their lives, human rights and dignity,” concluded the rapporteur.