Mikhail Pastukhou: ‘The abolition of the death penalty is a sign of the state’s and the society’s achievement of a certain level of development when the human life is recognized as the supreme value not to be defied by anyone, including the state’
Mikhail Pastukhou, famous lawyer and human rights expert, head of the Legal Aid Center of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, ex-judge of the Belarusian Supreme Court (1994-1996), has joined the civil campaign promoting the abolition of the capital punishment in Belarus ‘Human Rights Activists against the Death penalty.’
He stresses that the issue is ripe and certain measures should be taken.
‘The Republic of Belarus is the last European country to use the death penalty. The Constitution says that it is the exceptional measure of punishment. Still, there is no place for such punishment nowadays.
The point is not that we use the punishment rarely: some 3-4 death penalties are passed every year. The presence or the absence of the death penalty is an indicator of the state’s development, the legal culture of the society, even the mentality in general. The abolition of the death penalty is a sign of the state’s and the society’s achievement of a certain level of development when the human life is recognized as the supreme value not to be defied by anyone, including the state.
The history of civilization and the human society is indicative of our movement towards progress, by abandoning such terrible and ugly punishments of the past – the death penalty, quartering, beheading, hanging etc. Although shooting is considered a ‘humane and civilized’ punishment, eventually it is all the same. The state kills its people, albeit the worst ones, albeit for the cruelest crimes.
I think that the abolition of the death penalty will be something more for Belarus than the possibility to avoid judicial mistakes, which is inevitable. It will first of all be the recognition of the fact that the human being, his life, rights and freedoms are the supreme value not to be questioned by the state.
The abolition of the death penalty is a sign of the maturity of the society, the development of the state, and eventually is the implementations of one’s commitments before the European community.
The issue of the death penalty in the Republic of Belarus is ripe and certain measures should be taken. The easiest measure is the declaration of a moratorium on the death penalty, as long as the information campaign is under way, until the people realize for what it is done. I think that we can abandon this ‘exceptional’ measure of punishment and on all terms join the European family of nations – not only on this condition, but on other terms as well, which is what the civilized world is expecting us to do. However, we are reluctant to implement our duties.’ said Mikhail Pastukhou.