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European federation tells Belarus to lift ban on freelances

17 December 2013

The European Federation of Journalists has sent a letter to the government of Belarus arguing against the provision in a media law which forbids freelance journalists from practicing journalism in the country.

According to the Mass Media Law in Belarus, freelance journalists are banned from reporting in the country. The law only recognises employed journalists working for major media organisations in Belarus. Foreign journalists who are working in Belarus on assignments can also get press accreditations at the ministry of foreign affairs of Belarus.

Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ general secretary,  said ‘‘This is against European standards on freedom of expression and information. Every freelance journalist should have the same professional rights as employed journalists, including the rights to seek information, to protect sources and to uphold ethical standards."

The EFJ has backed its affiliate, the Belarus Association of Journalists (BAJ), arguing that the law is against the Constitution of Belarus on freedom of expression and information (Article 34).

The EFJ has called on its affiliates to support the BAJ by sending the letter of appeal to the Belarusian government and demanding that the ban on freelance journalists shall be lifted immediately.

John Toner, NUJ freelance organiser, said: “We fully support the Belarus Association in their efforts to overturn this ridiculous law. To outlaw freelance journalism is clearly incompatible with press freedom.”

Tags: , belarus, freelance, press freedom, efj