16 October 1997


Parliament to debate proposed amendments to Press Law

Incident details

legal action

(IFJ/IFEX) - In the coming days, the Parliament of Belarus will
debate proposed amendments to the Press Law. The amendments would
increase the level of governmental control over the media through
the power to ban publications and broadcasters, stop the
importation and exportation of information "which may harm the
political and economic interest of the republic" and prevent the
importation of foreign publications and broadcasts. This latter
provision is of particular relevance since many Belarusian
independent newspapers are published outside the country and
could therefore be banned. The main television station is also
based outside the country.

**Updates IFEX alerts dated 2 July and 27 June 1997**

Background Information

According to an IFEX alert originated by the Committee to Protect
Journalists, on 25 June 1997, the lower house of Parliament
adopted the latest draft amendments to the Belarusian Press Law.
The law was drafted unexpectedly without the participation of any
independent journalists or lawyers (see IFEX alerts).

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • calling these amendments attacks on press freedom which should
    not be sanctioned by any democratic body
  • expressing concern that the amendments, if approved, will give
    the authorities the tools with which to stop the free flow of
    information both within Belarus and from outside the country to
    the population inside
  • calling on Parliament to reject the proposed amendments in full
    and to reconsider the Press Law itself, which is already very

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Alexander Lukashenko
    Minsk 220010, Belarus Republic
    Fax: +375 172 23 58 25 / 22 38 72 / 22 32 84

    Valentin Agolets
    Minister of Interior
    Minsk, Belarus Republic
    Fax: +375 172 23 99 18

    Yuryy Zakharenka
    Minister of Internal Affairs
    Minsk, Belarus Republic
    Fax: +375 172 26 12 47

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    International Federation of Journalists
    International Press Centre, Residence Palace
    Bloc C, second floor, Rue de la Loi, 155
    1040 Brussels, Belgium

    Fax:+ 32 2 2352219

    IFEX members working in this country 1

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