Valiantsin Stefanovich: ‘No referendum is needed for the abolition of the death penalty, the legislation needs to be amended instead’
‘Legally, no referendum is needed for the abolition of the death penalty,’ says human rights activist and Viasna’s lawyer Valiantsin Stefanovich, commenting President Lukashenka’s recent statement in an interview with the La Stampa newspaper. Lukashenka said that the use of the death penalty is based on the results of the 1996 referendum and that, ‘under the Constitution, only another referendum can reverse its results.’
Meanwhile, Mr. Stefanovich mentions the decision by the Constitutional Court, which stresses that the detah penalty is a temporary measure in the Belarusian Constitution.
‘It means that the Constitution will not have to be amended to abolish the death penalty. And therefore no referendum is needed. To address the issue the Parliament simply has to amend the Belarusian legislation or declare a moratorium by a presidential decree. Secondly, it should be observed that not every proposal can be submitted to the referendum, for supposing we hold a referendum in a EU country now, I am sure the people will predominantly vote for the restoration of the death penalty,’ says Mr. Stefanovich.
The human rights activist also said the results of the announced information campaign for the abolition of the death penalty would largely depend on the authorities’ objectives.
‘It is very good that the state will carry out the information campaign. But this should be a free discussion in the society, so that citizens could make their own choice, not a forced one, imposed by the state. The campaign will help people understand the topicality of the issue, as well as see various alternative viewpoints,’ said the expert.