A rally in Minsk on March 15. Dozens of journalists are being obstructed or detained to prevent them covering protests in Belarus. (AP/Sergei Grits)

CPJ joins call for Belarus president to stop harassment of journalists, protesters

March 23, 2017 11:56 AM ET

The Committee to Protect Journalists, along with 48 rights organizations, sent a letter on March 22 to Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, condemning the detention and harassment of protesters, journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists, and members of the country's opposition party.

Most of the detentions and harassment are linked to peaceful protests demanding the cancellation of the newly introduced Presidential Decree No. 3, which imposes a tax on the unemployed. The decree obligates citizens to work a specific number of days or pay a duty to the state under threat of arrest.

CPJ has documented how Belarusian security forces have detained or obstructed at least 32 journalists since protests began earlier this month. According to reports from Belarusian and international human rights organizations, more than 250 people have been detained and at least 110 have been sentenced to between three and 15 days' administrative arrest since March 3.

The letter also calls on the president to ensure journalists and others are not obstructed from demonstrations planned in Minsk and other cities on March 25.

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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