16 September 2005 -- The Council of Europe today condemned what it called the "systematic and worsening campaign of intimidation and persecution" of independent journalists and civil-society activists in Belarus.
The committee on legal affairs and human rights of the council's parliament warned in a statement released in Strasbourg that such actions were "incompatible with freedom of expression and the right of peaceful assembly."
The committee said Belarus undertook to respect these freedoms under the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Helsinki Final Act of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
It said the Belarusian authorities should in particular "refrain from using criminal libel and defamation laws to stifle freedom of expression."
The European Union said last month it was "very concerned" about human rights in Belarus.
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