19 April 1999


World press group condemns Belarus threats

Incident details


(WAN/IFEX) - The following is a WAN press release:

**Updates IFEX alerts of 16 March and 18 February 1999**

Paris, 19 April 1999

For immediate release

World Press Group Condemns Belarus Threats

The World Association of Newspapers has asked Belarusian President Alexander
Lukashenko to stop threatening newspapers, saying his actions "are
tantamount to government censorship and violate all international norms of
free expression."

The Belarus government has threatened to ban six newspapers if they took a
stance on holding presidential elections, which is supported by the
opposition but opposed by President Lukashenko, who dissolved the country's
Constitution and Parliament in 1996.

"These acts of repression, along with restrictive amendments to your press
law, severely damage your country's reputation and lead to further ostracism
by the international community at a time when Belarus is experiencing
economic hardship and needs to increase its cooperation with nations
overseas," the Paris-based WAN said in a letter to President Lukashenko.

"We urge you to revoke these threats to Belarusian journalists, and to
ensure that all journalists in your country can report as accurately as
possible on public events," said the letter to the Belarusian leader, signed
by WAN President Bengt Braun.

WAN, the global association of the newspaper industry, had previously
protested against Belarus' amended press law, which was signed by President
Lukashenko last year. It makes a state-appointed body the ultimate arbiter
of most matters concerning the press, a situation which exacerbates what was
already one of the most restrictive press laws in Europe.

WAN defends and promotes press freedom world-wide. It represents 15,000
newspapers; its membership includes 58 national newspaper associations,
individual newspaper executives in 90 countries, 17 news agencies and seven
regional press groups.


World Association of Newspapers
7 Rue Geoffroy St. Hilaire
75005 Paris
contact_us (@) wan.asso.fr
Fax:+33 14 742 4948

IFEX members working in this country 1

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