Through this concise opinion the Committee expressed its grave concerns about the authoritarian trajectory of the Belarusian government and condemned acts of repression and intimidation against citizens, the media, political parties, CSOs and the social partners. It also condemned the way the Belarusian government organized the transfer of persons from third countries to its own territory with the aim of forcing the crossing of EU borders. This is an unacceptable act of exploiting the lives and aspirations of vulnerable persons and endangering their health and safety. The Committee therefore welcomed the Commission's proposal and considered possible sanctions on transport operators to be a justified action to be taken by the EU and the Member States.
The EESC also called for an immediate end to push-backs from the EU territory to a country where the safety of people is in danger. All persons crossing the EU border need to be able to make an asylum claim, if they so wish.
The Committee urged the Belarusian government to ensure that people present on its territory are not mistreated, can make an asylum claim, and are not returned to their countries of origin if their life and safety is endangered there, in full compliance with the non-refoulement principle.
Moreover, the EESC encouraged the EU institutions to engage with Belarus on a multilateral basis, ensuring that the country observes the international treaties regulating asylum and human rights protection.
The EESC emphasized the need to create safe routes for applying to receive international protection and safely migrating under EU, national and international law. The development of safe routes will decrease the need for smugglers and traffickers, and will better protect the safety and rights of all persons involved.
The EESC urged the EU institutions to devise a more comprehensive system of sanctions against the Belarusian government for its role in this crisis, in which the participation of transport carriers is just one component. The actions on the territory of Belarus could not have been organised without the approval of the highest levels of government and the participation of various state forces, including the border police.