Belarus: Government toughens laws against independent journalism and protesters

On 8 June, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a new legislation which punishes with up to three year jail term those accused of participating in unauthorized demonstrations while those who participate in or promote "extremist activity" would face up to six years in jail. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Belarussian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reject this legislation which is repressive of freedom of speech and information.


Since Lukashenko's contested re-election to a sixth presidential term in August 2020, demonstrations have been violently repressed, while journalists covering these protests have faced systematic harassment and arbitrary detentions by the authorities. There are currently he 27 journalists jailed in Belarusfor simply doing their job.

The authorities are also closing down websites and censoring messages on social media. 


The recently enacted law is just one more example of the never-ending targeting of journalists in Belarus. On 24 May, Lukashenko adopted legal measures making it compulsory to obtain a permit from the authorities to organise mass events and prohibiting journalists from live covering of such events.

In addition to this, Belarussian authorities have repeatedly labelled the media and journalists as extremists, accusing them of stirring up hatred. As the notion of “extremist activity” remains unclear in the recent legislation, it's likely to be used to suppress any dissent, but also any media activity related to the opposition organisations.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “Belarus is now one of the most dangerous countries in Europe for media professionals. We call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately stop the relentless targeting of journalists. The international community must take immediate action to stop the arbitrary detention of Belarussian media workers.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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