1410th meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 8 September 2021
The European Union is gravely concerned with the continuing deterioration of the situation of journalists and independent media in Belarus.
On 27 August, the Belarusian regime ordered the closure of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the largest independent journalist organisation in the country.
This politically motivated closure constitutes yet another blatant manifestation of the Belarus authorities’ continued contempt for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the media and freedom of expression. It is also part of an organized system of repression of all independent voices to prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of accurate and impartial information on the situation in the country.
In May of this year, the largest independent media platform tut.by was silenced, and criminal cases against its management and journalists were opened. In July, the relentless crackdown on non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders continued, including raids on private houses. Many citizens were arrested and presented with fabricated charges, facing serious reprisals from the authorities.
According to latest data from reliable and independent sources, there are now over 650 political prisoners in Belarus. Twenty seven of them are journalists or media workers. Some of them, including Andrzej Poczobut, Alexander Burakov or Tatiana Kapitonova have been detained by the authorities in Minsk for several months.
The EU strongly condemns the ongoing repressions and calls on the authorities in Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, including the detained journalists and media workers.
We urge Belarusian authorities to adhere to their country’s international commitments and obligations within the UN and OSCE, and to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their own citizens.
The EU continues to stand by the people of Belarus and will continue to support its civil society, including independent and free media.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Ukraine