The Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe denounces the actions of the government of Belarus which forced a Ryanair Flight to change course and land in Minsk in order to seize Roman Protasevich, a young journalist, and his partner, Sofia Sapéga. The Member States of the Council of Europe, dedicated to democracy, human rights and the rule of law, should take action to ensure that Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapéga are immediately released and their freedom of movement ensured. It remains incumbent upon Council of Europe Member States to uphold the human rights of all persons under their jurisdiction, whether on land, sea or air and to hold the government of Belarus accountable for these actions.
It is clear that this act aims to intimidate Belarus opposition and to send a signal that journalists or dissidents are not safe anywhere, not even when granted asylum in an EU country. We, the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, stand in solidarity with the courageous civil society of Belarus and their right to freedom of assembly, association and expression.
We appreciate the immediate actions taken by the EU and the stated intentions from democratic countries to impose severe sanctions and consequences for these crimes. We salute all those who take action to show their support to the people of Belarus in their struggle for democracy and human rights. We furthermore endorse the statement of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Dunja Mijatovic on the situation in Belarus: Human rights violations in Belarus must stop immediately.