Questioner: Huw Merriman (CON - Bexhill and Battle)
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what representations he has made to his counterpart in the Belarussian Government on (a) the case of the arrest and detention of independent journalist Andrei Aliaksandrau and his wife Irini Zloblina and (b) freedom of the press and human rights in Belarus.
Answered by Wendy Morton
The Government is deeply concerned by the continuing attacks on media freedom in Belarus. There have been more than 400 reported incidents of persecution of media figures in Belarus. The Government has repeatedly called on Belarus to release journalists who have been arbitrarily detained and hold to account those responsible for attacks on journalists, including the case of Mr Aliaksandrau. The Government has increased financial support to independent media organisations in Belarus and condemns the actions of the Belarusian authorities in international fora. I spoke out on Belarus at the UN Security Council (Arria Forum) on 11 January. As co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition, the UK was joined by 25 other nations in a statement, which condemns the authorities actions against journalists in Belarus and which highlights the plight of Mr Aliaksandrau.