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Rights Groups Call For 'Hotline' During 2019 European Games In Belarus


In April, police raided the Minsk office of Belsat, a satellite television station registered in Poland that is the only independent television channel broadcasting in Belarus.

Given Minsk's poor record on media and other rights, a complaints hotline for journalists should be created when Belarus hosts the 2019 European Games, two rights groups have urged.

Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the call on May 3, coinciding with World Press Freedom Day.

"Belarusian authorities have a long and sorry history of contempt for media freedom, so it's likely they may harass independent journalists in the lead-up and during the European Games," said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The European Olympic Committees should be ready to address this."

Belarus will host the games, a multisport event for more than 4,000 athletes, in Minsk from June 21-30.

Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists said the government of Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka severely restricts independent media and independent organizations.

While noting some improvements to the human rights situation in Belarus in recent years, the two rights groups said 2019 "is on track to be one of the worst years for media freedom and freedom of expression in Belarus in the past decade."

It noted journalists had been fined for cooperating with unregistered foreign media. In April, police raided the Minsk office of Belsat, a satellite television station registered in Poland that is the only independent television channel broadcasting in Belarus.

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