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Belarus urged to halt ban on freelance journalists

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has sent a letter of appeal to the government of Belarus against the provision in the media law that 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.

"It is almost unimaginable to have such a law forbidding freelance journalists from reporting," said Ricardo Gutiérrez. "This is against European standards on freedom of expression and information."

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).

"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," added Gutiérrez.

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.

Download the sample letter of appeal here.

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