EU Statement on the forced landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 in Minsk
Brussels, 02/06/2021 - 11:12, UNIQUE ID: 210602_6
Statements on behalf of the EU
1405th meeting of the Committee of Ministers on 2 June 2021
The European Union strongly condemns the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk, Belarus, on 23 May 2021 and the detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega.
This unprecedented action, which constituted a direct threat to the safety of the civilian passengers and crew of the airplane, is in clear violation of Belarus’s international obligations. We underline the importance of the investigation of this inadmissible act which is to be conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
The detention of Mr Pratasevich and Ms Sapega is yet another manifestation of the Belarusian authorities’ contempt for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the media and freedom of expression. It follows the recent attack on the largest independent outlet TUT.BY and actions against independent journalists such as Alexander Burakov, Vladimir Laptsevich, Tatyana Kapitonowa and Andrzej Poczobut who have been detained by the authorities in Minsk. We are deeply concerned about Mr Pratasevich’s and Ms Sapega’s treatment in detention, where the use of ill-treatment including torture has been widely documented, and following the recent death in prison of another political prisoner Vitold Ashurak.
The EU calls upon the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Raman Pratasevich, Sofia Sapega as well as all other journalists and political prisoners. We further urge Belarus to abide by their obligations under international human rights law and commitments undertaken within the United Nations and OSCE.
The harassment of journalists, persons belonging to national minorities, representatives of the political opposition human rights defenders and civil society in Belarus must stop immediately. Human rights violations and abuses cannot go unpunished and their perpetrators must be held to account. The EU is coordinating international efforts in this regard.
The EU will put enhanced pressure on the Belarusian authorities through the measures announced by the European Council, which includes further sanctions, including against those responsible for the diversion of the Ryanair flight.
The European Union continues to stand together with the people of Belarus in their strive to fulfil legitimate aspirations of a free, democratic society founded on the respect for human rights and the rule of law.
We encourage the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to continue to closely follow the human rights situation in Belarus and pursue her efforts aimed at extending the Organization’s possible support to civil society in the country, in close cooperation with other international organisations, with a view to securing full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Belarus.
The following countries align with this statement: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Ukraine