The Council of Europe and the Strasbourg Group of Friends on the Safety of Journalists and Media Freedom are holding a workshop to examine ways of strengthening support for exiled Belarusian journalists. In recent years, the government of Belarus has created a legal and political climate that makes it impossible for independent journalists and media to report on political and social developments in the country without fear of reprisal.
As a result, independent news media have collapsed and journalists and other media actors have stopped reporting on sensitive issues or fled into exile abroad, with many currently based in Lithuania, Poland, other Central and Eastern European countries, Germany and in the South Caucasus.
The workshop, held in Strasbourg on 21 and 22 March, brings together some 30 Belarusian journalists and professional associations supporting Belarusian journalists in exile and partner organisations to the Safety of Journalists Platform. Speakers include Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro and the General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists, Ricardo Gutiérrez.
The workshop is the first of several activities agreed in the framework of Council of Europe Contact Group on Belarus established to develop co-operation between the Council of Europe and the Belarusian democratic forces and civil society. 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 the Belarusian civil society and the opposition in exile, with particular emphasis on Belarusian youth, independent media and human rights defenders.