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19 Mar 2019

Belarus, OSCE ready to develop cooperation in media regulation

Belarus, OSCE ready to develop cooperation in media regulation

MINSK, 19 March (BelTA) - Belarus and the OSCE are ready to develop cooperation in terms of improving the legislation on mass media. Members of the standing commission for human rights, national relations and mass media of the House of Representative met with OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir in Minsk on 19 March, BelTA has learned.

The chairman of the commission Andrei Naumovich noted that cooperation between Belarus and the OSCE on media has been systemic. “We hope for support and understanding. We hope that the OSCE proposals will contribute to the improvement of the legislation as it does not stand still,” he noted.

Law making in Belarus is an open process involving representatives of civil society. “We are open to discuss different points of view. But the interests of Belarus citizens are always at the forefront,” the MP said.

Harlem Desir, for his part, confirmed the readiness of the OSCE to provide Belarus “all-round assistance and send experts and provide expert opinions, as and when necessary, on new bills and amendments”.

The OSCE representative was interested in the concept of information security and plans for its implementation, amendments to the law on mass media adopted in Belarus at the end of last year, a draft law to amend the laws of Belarus to clamp down on Nazi and extremism propaganda (up for the second reading soon).

MP Valentina Razhanets spoke about the main novel concepts of the law on mass media. For example, the document expands the list of information, distribution of which is prohibited, in particular the one encouraging suicide, on how to make bombs and explosives, improper advertising.

The law protects the personal data of minors who suffered as a result of illegal actions. The personal data includes last name, first name, patronymic, date of birth, place of residence and study, photo and video images of children, their parents. "When drafting the amendments, we wanted to ensure information security which is an integral part of human rights and legitimate interests,” she said.

The MP reiterated the importance of out-of-court restriction of access to certain internet resources. “Teens should not have any access to suicide websites,” she said. Representatives of a non-state website, who were present at the meeting of the working group to discuss the amendments, said that there was no restriction of access to internet resources for reasons other than spreading prohibited information, Valentina Razhanets added

Once the amendments to the law on mass media were passed, internet resources that distribute mass information got the possibility for state registration in order to become an online media outlet. The MP emphasized that the registration procedure is voluntary.
The participants of the meeting also discussed matters related to information availability. The MP said that government bodies have a responsibility to share information with journalists and this responsibility has been formalized at the legislative level. Decree No.65 of 6 February 2009 envisages personal responsibility of the heads of government bodies and organizations for the work with the media.

“We are open to dialogue and invite representatives of the civil society and mass media of different forms of ownership to join it,” the MP said. She cited The Big Conversation with the President, which was attended by representatives of different media outlets, as a vivid example of openness. 

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