Doc. 9859

9 July 2003

The persecution of the press in the Republic of Belarus

Motion for a resolution

presented by Mr Stankevič and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

      The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe:

1.       Acknowledging the intention of the Republic of Belarus to seek to restore the status of “special guest” in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe;

2.       In considering this request needs to investigate cases of persecution of the press in the Republic of Belarus;

3.       Recalling article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinion and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers);

4.       Deeply concerned about the suspension of four independent newspapers “Belarusian Business Newspaper” (BDG), “BDG. Confidential”, “Echo” and “Predprinimatelskaya Gazeta”, as well as about the previous similar cases and harassment of individual journalists;

5.       Noting that other newspapers that have demonstrated their solidarity with the suspended journalists and the newspapers are also under increasing pressure by the Belarusian authorities.

6.       calls upon the Belarusian authorities:

      i. to present an explanation of the present situation regarding the persecution of the “Belarusian Business Newspaper” (BDG), “BDG. Confidential”, “Echo” and “Predprinimatelskaya Gazeta” as well as other independent newspapers;

      ii. to reconsider their decisions to suspend these four newspapers and to allow the journalists and newspapers to return to normal working practices;

      iii. to stop the persecutions of independent mass media in the best interests of Belarusian further integration in the wider European family.

7.       Urges the Republic of Belarus to adopt legislation on mass media in line with normal practices and the democratic standards of the Council of Europe.

8.       Decides to examine at its next session the issue of freedom of expression in the Republic of Belarus.

Signed (see overleaf)

Signed 1:

Stankevič, Lithuania, LDR

Arnold, Denmark, LDR

Bargholtz, Sweden, LDR

Béreš, Slovakia, LDR

Berisha, Albania, EPP/CD

Bruce, United Kingdom, LDR

Burbienė, Lithuania, SOC

Čekuolis, Lithuania, LDR

Coifan, Romania, LDR

Dimić, Serbia and Montenegro,NR

Gábor, Hungary, LDR

Hancock, United Kingdom, LDR

Huseynov R., Azerbaijan, LDR

McNamara, United Kingdom, SOC

Nabholz-Haidegger, Switzerland, LDR

Pehrson, Sweden, LDR

Petrova-Mitevska, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, SOC

Pourgourides, Cyprus, EPP/CD

Ringstad, Norway, LDR

Spindelegger, Austria, EPP/CD

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      LDR : Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group