France is appalled by the announcement that the Lukashenko regime sentenced three Belarusian journalists from the Nexta independent media outlet – Roman Protasevich, Stepan Putilo and Yan Rudzik – to eight, 20 and 19 years in prison respectively. The latter two were sentenced in absentia.
In May 2021, the Belarusian government diverted a Ryanair flight [to Minsk] in order to arrest journalist Roman Protasevich in violation of the Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation and the Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation.
The Lukashenko regime has once again demonstrated its utter contempt for the freedom of expression in particular and human rights in general. Once again, the Belarusian courts were used by the regime to suppress any criticism of the government.
As a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Belarus is required to comply with its human rights commitments. France therefore calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners held in the country. In the face of ongoing brutal repression, France reiterates its support for defenders of press freedom and human rights in Belarus.