Together against disinformation

The Belarusian section of the ISHR held the first seminar following the plan of the implementation of a grant from the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs to the ISHR #CivilSocietyCooperation on the topic “Media, opinion formation, human rights” on July 20, 2019, in the town of Luninets, Brest region.

The seminar was prepared and held at a high organizational level. It was attended by journalists of regional media, writers, bloggers, librarians, teachers, and high school students from Luninets, Mikashevichi, Brest, Baranavichy, Pinsk.

The meeting was opened by Ivan Kotlyar, chairman of the Belarusian section of the ISHR, professor. The head of the public association in his speech spoke about the goals and objectives of the seminar, presented the organization, and outlined the thematic framework of discussion

The session was moderated by Vadim Zhilko, co-founder of the Belarusian section of the ISHR in 1998, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, deputy editor of the private newspaper Inform-Progulka (published weekly since March 15, 1994, circulation: 5,000 copies). Also, an experienced journalist presented a deep and informative report on the media landscape of the Republic of Belarus, identifying the urgent problems of the media in the context of human rights.

The report on the topic “On disinformation in the media, the Internet, and its consequences” by Pavel Pernikau, member of the board, head of the press center of the Belarusian section of the ISHR, caused great interest. The report gave definitions of key concepts on the issue, decomposed relevant domestic as well as and foreign examples of misinformation, as well as told about the fight against disinformation by the EU, the authorities of Belarus, and the Belarusian section of the ISHR at the present stage.

Within the framework of the seminar program, a discussion took place. Following the discussion of the problem, the adoption of a set of recommendations aimed at reducing the spread of misinformation and reducing its impact had preceded summing-up.

In particular, the Belarusian government bodies are recommended to: significantly diversify and expand the sources of media products available to the public, adding new channels from neighboring countries (Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia) to the mandatory register; remove from the broadcast channels, disseminating unreliable, biased information; maintain an ongoing dialogue with the journalistic community and human rights associations on the topic of information policy and relevant legislation; increase public awareness of the phenomenon of misinformation and increase media literacy of the population by supporting discussions and training conducted by specialized non-governmental organizations, educational seminars for civil servants, creating a mandatory course for schools and universities.

Vitaliy Dymov «Вместе – против дезинформации» 

The Belarusian journalistic community is recommended to: develop initiatives to verify facts, using special tools to identify trolls and coordinate efforts to limit the distribution of unreliable and provocative materials on the Internet; organize professional training for media-related individuals; special attention should be paid to the observance of the standards of professional ethics.

The international organizations are recommended to: support the initiatives of the civil society of Belarus in verifying facts and promoting media literacy programs; continue to support independent media and journalistic investigations into human rights violations, including rights to free speech.

All of the participants of the seminar noted that they gained new knowledge that they can apply in the future. The experience of the seminar will be used by the Belarusian section of the ISHR in preparing and holding the second seminar in Brest on September 28 and the third seminar in Minsk on October 10 of the current year.

Member of the Board, Head of the Press Center Pavel Pernikau

P.S. The author of the newspaper Inform-Progulka Vitaliy Dymov published his article about the seminar called «Вместе – против дезинформации» («Together against disinformation») (№30 (1069), 25 July, 2019) (see above).