Belarusian Association of Journalists targeted by Ministry of Justice

This statement was originally published on on 21 June 2021.

The Ministry of Justice has started monitoring the activities of the Belarusian Association of Journalists. The letter that BAJ received on Monday morning requires the NGO to present thousands of papers dating back to 1 January 2018 to the Ministry’s Non-profit organizations department.

When we speak of thousands of documents, we really mean it.

The Ministry of Justice wants to see membership lists, filed out membership application forms, minutes of all meetings of elected bodies held since the beginning of 2018, all incoming and outgoing messages during this period, all financial records, and more.

Remarkably, the letter is dated 9 June, but arrived only today. Initially, it set today, June 21, as the deadline for submission of the paperwork. Now the Ministry’s representative says they expect the BAJ documents to arrive by Wednesday morning, 23 June.

We have been acting according to the letter of law in all our activities since the creation of BAJ 25 years ago. However, the requirement to provide a huge list of documents in just 2 days is unrealistic. At the very least, because some of the requested documents are still being kept by the Investigation Committee, after a search of the BAJ office was carried out on 16 February.

Therefore, the BAJ filed a complaint with the Minister of Justice asking for a reasonable time for presenting the paperwork.

The Belarusian Association of Journalists unites over 1,300 journalists, editors, photographers, and publishers. It is a member of the International and European Federations of Journalists.

For many years BAJ has been helping journalists to defend their professional rights, and monitoring the situation in the field of media in Belarus.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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