The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) condemns the arrest of freelancer and Belsat TV contributor Kastus Zhukouski and media staff member Alyaksei Atroshchankau in the town of Lojeu, Homieĺ region on Tuesday, 21 June by local police officers.
The team was filming a report about the state of the economy in the Belarussian regions and a local brick factory, when they were approached and arrested by police. According to Zhukouski, they were taken into custody, where senior police officers took their equipment and destroyed it, handcuffed them both and pushed him to the floor, followed by a boot pushing his head against the ground.
After spending several hours in police custody, an ambulance was called and both media workers were taken to the hospital and treated for several body injuries. ‘The violent intimidation of journalists is never acceptable, and this incident is particularly disturbing because of the alleged involvement of police officers. SEEMO urges authorities to conduct a swift and transparent investigation into the alleged mistreatment of Kastus Zhukouski and Alyaksei Atroshchankau, and to ensure that the responsible individuals are held accountable’, SEEMO General Secretary Oliver Vujovic said.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.