Human rights defenders remind about problem of death penalty in Belarus (photos)

2009 2009-10-12T22:38:55+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On 10 October, the World Day against the Death Penalty, representatives of human rights organizations reminded the public about the problem of the death penalty in Belarus. As it was discovered as a result of talks with passers-by, some of them even did not know such kind of penalty existed in Belarus while the death verdicts continued to be issued in the country.

Members of the Human Rights Center Viasna came to the central avenue of Minsk to hand out posters of the international human rights organization Amnesty International that supports the campaign Human Rights Defenders against Death Penalty.

The receivers of these postcards familiarized with the calls and arguments of the influential international organization concerning the necessity of the death penalty moratorium in Belarus, and also received the possibility to send a personal address to the president with the request to replace all issued death verdicts with terms of imprisonment.

As said by the human rights activists, they were very pleased that some of the people with who they talked signed the petition without any doubts, as soon as they received the postcards. There were also Belarusian citizens and tourists who were really surprised to learn that such cruel and inhumane kind of punishment is still legally used in Belarus.

As stated by the representative of the HRC Viasna Valiantsin Stefanovich, this action, as well as the latest sociological polls among the population on this issue, shows inspiring results. The number of adherents of the death penalty abolishment has considerably increased since the times of referendum-1996 and is already about 40%.

In his talk with journalists the human rights defender gave the following evaluation to the position of the Belarusian authorities on the issue of the death penalty:

‘Pitifully enough, we have come to the World Day against the Death Penalty with deplorable results. The moratorium, about which the Belarusian authorities have been speaking for a long time, hasn’t been introduced yet. We have no reliable information about the preparation of the moratorium, except for the earlier assurances by the authorities. At present there is no progress on this issue, and it isn’t even mentioned by any officials.

At the same time, now we have two pending death verdicts that have been issued quite recently. We, human rights defenders, are very concerned about such circumstances. We will try to do everything possible so that these verdicts would not be implemented and these death convicts would not become the last shot people in the modern history of Belarus.

Pitifully enough, the authorities talked about the necessity of the death penalty moratorium from very practical considerations. They need it for regaining the special guest status at the Council of Europe, but speak very little about the essence of the death penalty, its moral aspects and the connection between the death penalty and the crime rate in the society – the issues to which we, human rights defenders, must refer while informing the Belarusian population and explaining why we are against the existence of the death penalty in Belarus,’ said Valiantsin Stefanovich.