Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Belarus23 August 2007

Government creates working group to restrict online free expression

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about deputy information minister Alyaksandr Slabadchuk’s announcement on 20 August that a working group is being set up to look at the “Internet’s legal regulation.” The announcement came two weeks after President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to put an end to “anarchy” on the Internet.

“We are alarmed that the authorities have decided to pursue their preparations to restrict online free expression”, the press freedom organisation said. “The Internet is one of the few spaces where Belarusians can be free. The fact that China is being cited as an example shows how repressive these plans are.”

Slabadchuk acknowledged that existing civil and criminal law provisions already apply to the Internet, but he defended the working group’s creation on the grounds that it was hard to identify those responsible for online violations and that the media law did not apply to Internet activity.

“This is why, as it is not banned by His Majesty the Law, you can write anything you like on the Internet,” he told the Interfax news agency. He claimed that the new regulations would not restrict freedom, but he went on to cite how the Internet is controlled in China, where at least 50 Internet users are currently imprisoned.

Andrei Bastunets, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), told Reporters Without Borders the government could include these new restrictions in a law for the protection of information that is to come before parliament in the autumn or in a new version of the media law.

“The aim of Internet Regulation is to shut Belarus behind a legal and technological fence,” Bastunets said. “It is obviously impossible to close down all the websites overnight. But they can restrict the part of the Internet available to Belarusians and establish the necessary conditions for targeted prosecutions against Internet users.”




  In this country
6 March - Belarus
Call for end to unofficial ban on foreign journalists
26 February - Belarus
Judge orders two issues of cultural magazine seized and destroyed
29 January - Belarus
In show of bad faith, government again refuses to issue press accreditation to Radio Racyja journalists
27 November - Belarus
Amid signs of tentative liberalisation, government urged to do more and to resist temptation to control Internet
26 September - Belarus
Media coverage of election campaign ignores political debates and opposition

in the annual report
Belarus - Annual Report 2008
Belarus - Annual report 2007
Belarus - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

Reports
5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison
archives

Sign the petitions
Uzbekistan
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives