BAJ: We expect liberalization towards freelancers

Бастунец: Чакаем, што лібералізацыя законаў закране і фрылансераў

Freelance journalists in Belarus again face administrative prosecution under article "Illegal production and dissemination of media". Andrei Bastunets, the chairperson of Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) says that all of those court cases depend on political motives - not legal. Commenting to Euroradio, he noted that under the laws, freelancers cannot be tried for "production and dissemination of media", because editorial offices - not individual freelancers - deal with that.

Belarus started to put freelance journalists on trial and fine them under this article in the Administrative Code in 2014. As сBAJ statistics show that 30 people were fined under this article in 2015. The practice stopped ahead of the presidential elections. However, cases were resumed in January 2016, with three journalists fined and two more waiting to be tried, says Bastunets.

BAJ approached the government and the Office of the President, proposing to revise this article. According to Bastunets, BAJ hopes for liberalization of laws as proposed by the Interior Ministry. He added that among other provisions, the Interior has proposed to abolish the right of a police officer to file police reports for illegal production and dissemination of media.