Nordic Joint Statement Issued by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland on the occasion of Arria formula meeting in United Nation Security Council on Media Freedom in Belarus 22 January 2020
Members of the Security Council, distinguished experts,
I have the pleasure to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries – Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland.
We welcome today’s opportunity to discuss the grave violations of the rights to freedom of expression and information alongside media freedom in Belarus following the presidential election of 9 August 2020. The situation in Belarus continues to merit the attention of the international community.
I would like to initially thank the briefers for their insightful and first hand remarks about media freedom in Belarus.
In the aftermath of the presidential election, we saw journalists being beaten and detained as part of the widespread and indiscriminate violence against peaceful protesters carried out by the authorities. Media, journalists and bloggers have become targets of the government’s systematic repression. Foreign journalists have been denied accreditation or have been deported. Massive internet shutdowns have taken place. As summarised in the report by OSCE Rapporteur, Professor Benedek: The freedom of the media and the safety of journalists are under massive attack. The situation is not improving. Detentions, harassment and gross violations of human rights have become part of the daily life of journalists in Belarus.
On 22 December, the founder of the Press Club Belarus, Yulia Slutskaya, was arbitrarily detained, while several of her colleagues were detained hours later. If convicted, they may face several years in prison. According to all information, they were only reporting the facts of the situation in Belarus. These violations of the right to liberty and security of person should not go unnoticed and should be condemned.
The voices of the people of Belarus need to be heard. Critical voices must not be silenced. The rights to freedom of expression and information as well as the freedom of the media are crucial preconditions for a democratic and sustainable society. The Belarusian authorities must ensure the safety of all journalists and persecution related to the performance of their duties must stop immediately .We call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily detained. Accountability must be ensured.
In closing, we will continue our strong support and stand in solidarity with the Belarusians who fight for democracy and for the brave journalists and media workers carrying out their duty and exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.