The Council of Europe has held the Second Workshop for Belarusian journalists in exile. The issues that were discussed included professional solidarity and cooperation among journalists in exile and national and international associations, support to Belarusian journalists through European mechanisms, ways for Belarusian independent media to circumvent censorship, and how Big Tech can help Belarussian media.
Workshop participants adopted the conclusions of the event, where they said: “The authorities in Belarus intensify legal and political pressure that makes it impossible for independent journalists and media to report without fear of reprisal on political, economic and social developments in the country. As a result of the ongoing oppression, the remaining significant and politically influential independent news media, professional journalists and other media actors have either stopped reporting on sensitive issues and/or fled into exile and are currently based in several member states of the Council of Europe, in particular Poland and Lithuania.”
They stressed that the Belarusian media in exile are an important instrument of countering disinformation and propaganda for their audiences at home and abroad. “The online media attempt to reach their audience at home from abroad despite blocking of access to their websites by the authorities. They provide significant input into strengthening the will of the Belarusian civil society for freedom and democracy.”
Belarusian journalists in exile who participated in the workshop have outlined the roadmap for future actions and co-operation with the Council of Europe, other European organisations, international associations of journalists, national authorities, internet intermediaries and civil society. They have called on these key stakeholders to do everything possible to allow Belarusian media in exile continue their work. This support can range from providing political support, facilitating visa procedures and relocation, providing financial assistance, to accrediting Belarusian journalists with professional journalistic associations, facilitating the distribution of the Belarusian content through independent media channels and enabling internet algorithms that would distinguish between Russo-Belarusian propaganda content and that created by bona fide independent media. The workshop participants have also called on their fellow journalists to fully respect ethical standards of journalism.
The workshop, on 20 and 21 November, was supported by the Justice for Journalists (JFJ) Foundation (U.K.), and held in cooperation with the Council of Europe Contact Group on co-operation with representatives of Belarusian democratic forces and civil society and the Belarusian Association of Journalists. The first workshop for Belarusian journalists in exile was held in Strasbourg in March 2023. In March 2022 the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers decided to suspend all relations with the authorities of Belarus and to enhance the organisation’s relations with Belarusian civil society and the opposition in exile, with particular emphasis on Belarusian youth, independent media and human rights defenders.
Belarus on the Council of Europe Safety of Journalists Platform
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