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2021.09.06 18:08

Lithuanian media outlets call on authorities to allow border access, say current restrictions 'unacceptable'

LRT.lt2021.09.06 18:08

Lithuanian media outlets have issued a joint statement on Monday, calling on the authorities to renew access to the border with Belarus amid the ongoing migration crisis.

LRT English is publishing the traslated statement in full, which was signed Delfi.lt, 15min.lt, Lrytas.lt, TV3, Baltic News Service (BNS), ELTA, Diena Media News, and LNK.

“It has been a month since journalists representing Lithuanian news outlets have been denied entry to the border [with Belarus] to observe the work of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service (VSAT) and other authorities.

Journalists are unable to counter Belarusian propaganda, as well as to verify information provided by Lithuanian institutions.

These ongoing restrictions severely limit the right of media outlets to receive and disseminate information vital to the public,on migrant returns and the adherence to human rights.

Journalists are unable to counter Belarusian propaganda, as well as to verify information provided by Lithuanian institutions.

The media is told that the access to the border zone has been restricted due to the threat to journalists and that the footage showing the situation on the border may be used by hostile propaganda.

Lithuanian news outlets are able to ensure that reporters will take all necessary safety precautions.

It is unacceptable to ban the work of journalists on the grounds that it may be exploited by another country. This cannot be a reason in a democratic country to restrict the freedom of the media and the public's right to impartial information.

We firmly believe only objective information and unrestricted work of the press can increase the society’s resilience to propaganda.

"It is unacceptable to ban the work of journalists on the grounds that it may be exploited by another country. This cannot be a reason in a democratic country to restrict the freedom of the media and the public's right to impartial information."

We note that the Code of Administrative Offences holds the heads of state, municipal institutions and establishments liable for failing “to provide information to media representatives, except for information not disclosed under the laws of the Republic of Lithuania, without stating the reason for refusal, obstruction of journalists' professional activities”.

We believe that some decisions of the institutions can be equated with this violation of the law.

We see a risk that the current situation may continue to strengthen the climate of mistrust in the society toward the media and public institutions. Without the opportunity for journalists to perform their professional duties, the dissemination of unreliable information and propaganda will increase.

"We see a risk that the current situation may continue to strengthen the climate of mistrust in the society toward the media and public institutions."

We demand that the Interior Ministry immediately allows journalists to work in the State Border Protection Zone and to join the patrols of the border guards.”

The letter was addressed to the Lithuanian Interior Ministry, President Gitanas Nausėda, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, the office of the parliamentary Humans Rights Committee, the bureau of the parliamentary Security and National Defence Committee, and the Office of the Inspector of Journalist Ethics.

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