OTTAWA, Canada – Marc Garneau, minister of foreign affairs, and Omar Alghabra, minister of transport, issued the following statement:
“Canada strongly condemns the forced diversion of Ryanair Flight 4978 under false pretenses and the subsequent arrest of journalist Roman Protasevich by Belarus. This reckless, brazen act by the Belarusian regime jeopardized the safety of passengers and constitutes serious interference in the fundamental principles and international rules that ensure civil aviation safety around the world.
As per Canada’s Safer Skies Initiative, Transport Canada is issuing a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) advising Canadian air operators and the owners of aircraft registered in Canada to avoid operating at any altitude within Belarusian airspace due to serious safety and security concerns posed to civil aviation operations.
This shocking action also constitutes a blatant attack on media freedom with serious implications on the rights of freedom of expression. We call on Belarus to release Protasevich immediately.
Canada stands in solidarity with our partners in the face of these actions. We are assessing, with like-minded partners, response options that include sanctions to ensure these unacceptable actions have consequences.
Canada will participate in the urgent meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization Council this week to shed light on the circumstances surrounding this abhorrent transgression.
We also urge the government of Belarus to release all individuals who have been arbitrarily detained. An impartial investigation of all allegations of torture and other cruel treatment is needed.
“Canada will continue to work with its partners to ensure that the voices of the people of Belarus are heard and to pursue accountability for those responsible for undermining democracy, suppressing media freedom and committing human rights violations.”