Freedom of the press in Belarus is a sensitive subject, which has caught the world’s attention. The independent media in that country finds it very difficult to compete against the state-owned media, since the latter has impeded access to new information technologies, thus securing a better – and almost exclusive – output for its outlets. However, there are efforts by the Belarusian Association of Journalists and other International associations to bring about reforms that would remove the obstacles which hinder the independent media from securing a relevant presence in the country’s affairs.
International journalism organizations have called upon the Belarusian government to allow the media in general to meet and keep international standards. The group did welcome, however, recent positive changes done by the government, where it eases pressure on media and journalists alike. Nonetheless, it still seeks a long time commitment from the authorities regarding these and other freedoms that are necessary for an independent Belarusian media to thrive as it should.
One of the sticking points in this matter is the unequal economic conditions between state and non-state media outlets, which gives the authorities the upper hand in all media related matters. Moreover, there is heavily restricted access to public information, as well as constraining measures exercised by Belarusian legislation on extremism and defamation on media work.
As one independent reporter put it, “freedom is not only about opening markets, or being able to travel abroad, or having access to online social media and services, or just being able to sell a house or get Cialis Online if you feel like it. Freedom is about letting people express their ideas without being afraid of being punished for it.’
So far, Freedom of the press in Belarus has ranked very low in the “freedom index” put out by “Reporters without Borders,” with the 188th position out of 195 countries. Many journalists in the country hope that these findings will be carefully studied by the EU and used as leverage when dialoguing with the Belarusian authorities. The aim of all these International organizations is to ensure more freedom and fairness for both the state run and non-state media in the country.