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Belarus: Sereni calls for freedom of information and the release of arrested journalists

“In democratic societies, freedom of information plays an essential role in ensuring respect for human rights and fundamental liberties,” said the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marina Sereni, speaking at the Arria-formula Meeting on the repeated violations of media freedom in Belarus.

“Italy – Vice Minister Sereni continued – is concerned about the continuous reports of harassment, detentions and withdrawal of accreditations from journalists, bloggers and other media workers by the Belarusian authorities. This undermines the right of the Belarusian people to access fact-based and independent information. The people of this country must be allowed free access to the media and therefore we call on the authorities in Minsk to ensure the freedom of the media, to refrain from closing or censoring the Internet, and to fully respect human rights, while journalists and other media workers – the Vice Minister said – must be able to operate without fear of reprisals or restrictions. Likewise, journalists and other media workers arbitrarily arrested must be released immediately.”

“Like our EU partners – Vice Minister Sereni explained – we did not recognise the democratic legitimacy of President Lukashenko, as the August presidential elections were marked by manipulation and irregularities, before and during the electoral process. In this regard, we once again urge the government of Belarus to initiate a meaningful and inclusive dialogue with all opposition forces, to release all political prisoners, to fully respect freedom of expression and to pave the way for a genuine political transition, with the ultimate goal of holding free and fair elections, in line with international standards.”

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