Human rights defenders are concerned with P.Miklashevich’s statement about possible referendum on abolishment of death penalty
‘According to the Constitution, abolishment of death penalty in Belarus can be decided only by means of referendum,’ stated the head of the Constitutional Court of Belarus Piatro Miklashevich at the press-conference of 11 March. As said by him, ‘a special provision has been put in the Constitution concerning the abolishment of death penalty’, Interfax informs.
Human rights defenders express their anxiety with such statements of the head of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus. Valiantsin Stefanovich points that Mr. Mikhlashevich’s words contradict to the appropriate Conclusion of the Constitutional Court, according to which the existence of death penalty as a temporary measure was fixed in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus.
‘Today’s statement of the head of the Supreme Court Piatro Miklashevich causes a certain concern, as there is the Conclusion of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus of 11 March 2004 about the compliance of the provisions of the Criminal Code that envisage the usage of death penalty, with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and the international treaties ratified by our country.
As it follows from this Conclusion, the Constitutional Court is of the opinion that Article 24, part 3 of the Constitution that envisages the use of death penalty as an extraordinary measure only till its abolishment, give the opportunity to introduce moratorium on death penalty or abolish this kind of penalty at all. It means that the temporary nature of death penalty is pronounced in the Constitution. According to the Conclusion, moratorium (at least as the primary step) can be declared by the president or by the parliament. Naturally, there is no need of referendum for it. The Conclusion also states that the results of the referendum that was held in 1996 and at which 80,44% citizens voted for keeping this kind of penalty, are optional.
That’s why we are very concerned with what Mr. Mikhashevich said. It is unclear whether he has a different position from his predecessor, Mr. Vasilevich, and from the decision of 2004, or Mr. Mikhlashevich has just forgotten about this decision. The conclusion has been adopted and is still in action,’ commented Valiantsin Stefanovich.