Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Belarus (ICAO Investigation)
Statement31 October 2022
Thank you, President, and to President of the ICAO, Mr Sciacchitano for your briefing.
Ireland welcomes the conclusions of the ICAO investigation into the forced landing of a Ryanair aircraft in Minsk in May 2021, as confirmed by the ICAO Council and endorsed by the its Assembly. We thank the ICAO Fact Finding Investigation Team for their work, and those Member States who contributed to this important task.
Ireland condemns the act of unlawful interference committed by the Government of Belarus concerning the forced landing of flight F-R- Four nine seven eight.
This was a clear breach of international aviation law. It needlessly endangered the safety of an aircraft in flight, and that of its passengers and crew on board. We call on Belarus to take all appropriate action, as requested by the ICAO Assembly.
The facts are clear. They are based on a detailed and thorough fact-finding investigation which gathered incontrovertible evidence of State-led breaches of international aviation law.
The bomb threat against the Ryanair aircraft was deliberately false. Senior government officials in Belarus knowingly participated, and gave instructions to force it to land in Minsk.
In sum, the Lukashenko regime orchestrated the hijacking of this civilian aircraft to arrest an opposition journalist and his companion.
This is a clear indication of the lengths Lukashenko will go to repress all dissent against his brutal regime.
Ireland condemns the detentions of journalist Roman Protasevich, and his companion, Sofia Sapega [Sah-pay-gah]. For His alleged crime? Honest media reporting of Lukashenko's regime of repression and intimidation.
This serious incident was the latest in a pattern of repressive actions by the Lukashenko regime against the Belarusian people and civil society following the fraudulent Presidential election of August 2020. With no democratic legitimacy, Lukashenko relies on repression and threats to maintain his rule at the cost of his country’s prosperity and the human rights of his people.
Ireland condemns the use of State violence against peaceful protesters, indiscriminate detentions, and curtailments on the freedom of assembly and media freedoms in Belarus, and calls for their immediate cessation.
We remain steadfast in our support for a sustainable, democratic and peaceful resolution of the situation in Belarus.
The brazen steps taken by Belarus to arrest Mr. Protasevich [Pro-ah-say-vich] is yet another stark reminder of the dangers faced by journalists and media workers.
They have long been the international community’s early-warning system. Our efforts to uphold democracy, monitor human rights abuses, and identify emerging conflicts would be a fraction of what they are without the information we receive from journalists.
Peace and security, freedom of expression, and a free and independent press, are inextricably linked. Journalists and media workers are indispensable to our work in the Security Council.
It is vital, therefore, that this Council upholds Resolutions seventeen-thirty-eight and twenty two twenty two, in order to protect journalists and media professionals working in armed conflict, to secure accountability for crimes against them, and to ensure a free and independent press.
President, with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, it is clear that the impact of Lukashenko’s actions are no-longer confined to within Belarus’ borders.
Russia has not acted alone in this war. It invaded Ukraine via Belarus. It has launched missile strikes against Ukrainian targets, including critical civilian infrastructure, from the territory of Belarus.
Ireland condemns Belarus’ involvement in this illegal, unjustified war, and reminds it of its responsibility to abide by international law.
Thank you, President.