Belarusian opposition supporters attend a rally to reject the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus November 22, 2020. CPJ joined other civil society groups to express concern about press freedom and human rights violations in the wake of the election. (Reuters/Stringer)

CPJ joins calls for accountability, ending of crackdown in Belarus

New York, December 10, 2020 – Today, on International Human Rights Day, the Committee to Protect Journalists and eight other civil society groups issued a joint statement expressing deep concern about the violation of human rights and press freedom in Belarus in the wake of the August 9 presidential election, and calling Belarusian authorities to immediately investigate and redress the ongoing abuses. 

Based on a November 5 report by an Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe rapporteur via the Moscow Mechanism, findings by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and reports by human rights and press freedom organizations in Belarus, the statement detailed violations including excessive police violence, systematic torture, the arbitrary detention of peaceful protesters and members of the press, politically motivated prosecutions, internet shutdowns, and internet blocking. The statement counted more than 400 cases of press freedom violations. It said nine journalists are currently under investigation for carrying out their professional activities, with three of those, Katsiaryna Barysevich, Katsiaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava), and Daria Chultsova, in detention on criminal charges. 

The statement called on Belarusian authorities to immediately release all detained journalists and halt prosecutions, and investigate allegations of wrongdoing by law enforcement or other state agents. 

The joint statement can be read here.