Promoting and defending the right to freedom of expression, media freedom and the safety of journalists are at the core of UNESCO´s mandate. Implementation of media freedom principles and international commitments endorsed by UNESCO, as well as addressing impunity for crimes against journalists and media workers, constitute the foundation for the safety of journalists, online and offline.
We urge UNESCO, as the UN agency with a specific mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom, to react on the further deteriorating situation for the right to freedom of expression and for the freedom of the press, specifically in regard to journalists and media workers, as well as all individuals wishing to express themselves freely, in Belarus since the fraudulent presidential elections of August 2020.
The Belarusian authorities continue their aggravated attacks against national and international journalists and media workers, who are being regularly harassed, intimidated and detained arbitrarily. We further condemn the denial of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of peaceful assembly, both online and offline, the systematic and deplorable limitation of the access to information, the internet shutdowns and the increasing restrictions on independent media actors by the Belarusian authorities.
The EU urges the Belarusian authorities to cease their violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including media freedom, and to abide by the rule of law and calls for an immediate and unconditional release of all journalists and media workers, currently detained or serving prison sentences for simply doing their job and exercising their rights.
The EU continues to support the legitimate call of the Belarusian people for the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of opinion and expression, information, assembly and association, as well as the freedom of the media and commends those that continue to stand up for their rights.
In a recent letter to UNESCO‘s Director General Audrey Azoulay, the European Union underlined that UNESCO must play its essential role in protecting journalists worldwide. In accordance with the Director General‘s recent message on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day (May 3rd) we urge UNESCO to make its voice loud and clear on this subject, publicly reaffirming its absolute support for freedom of expression and the protection of journalists in Belarus.
Press release by the Delegation of the European Union here.