UN rights expert on Belarus calls for investigation of murder of journalists

15 November 2005

A United Nations human rights expert has urged the Government of Belarus to bring to justice those responsible for the recent murders of two journalists and to put an end to the persecution of non-State media in the country.

Those murder cases and the situation of freedom of the press in the country were described in detail in a recent appeal to the Government by Adrian Severin, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, who reports in an independent capacity.

He said that Vasil Hrodnikau, a freelance correspondent of the newspaper Narodnay Volya was found dead in his home in the Minsk district, apparently of a traumatic brain injury, on 18 October.

Authorities have consistently harassed Narodnay Volya, the Special Rapporteur said, because of its criticism of President Aleksandr Lukashenko.

On 20 October 2004, Mr. Severin said, Veranika Charkasova was stabbed to death in her Minsk apartment after having investigated allegations of arms sales of Belarus to Iraq and written a series of articles on surveillance of civilians in Belarus.

Those cases follow that of Dmitri Zavadski, a television cameraman who disappeared on 7 July 2000.

The official investigations into all the cases have produced no conclusive results, Mr. Severin said. He urged the Government to take all measures to clarify them, bring the perpetrators to justice, "and put an end to the systematic harassment and persecution of non-State media and take all necessary steps to secure the right to freedom of opinion and expression in Belarus."


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