Viktar Huminski: ‘Belarus has directly come to starting thorough, transparent and wide discussion on abolishing the death penalty’
Activists of the campaign Human rights activists against death penalty in Belarus received an answer to their address to the Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus.
Bear in mind that on 10 December representatives of the human rights community passed to the Presidential Administration a petition calling to abolish this kind of penalty which they consider as a violation of the right to life that is enshrined in the Constitution and the international treaties on human rights. A copy of the address was also passed to the Chamber of Representatives.
In his answer Viktar Huminski, head of the Regular national security commission of the Chamber of Representatives, ‘Belarus has directly come to starting thorough, transparent and wide discussion on abolishing the death penalty. The deputies need a dialogue with the people for it. It can have different forms. However, first of all we will study the possibility of holding parliamentary hearing on this issue. I think they will allow objectively evaluate the situation and the readiness of the society see this issue in a new light.’
At the same time, V.Huminski again refers to the referendum of 1996 and thinks that the deputies have no right to ignore its results. ‘Though we respect the opinion of the European Union, we cannot be guided solely by it in solving such important internal questions as the abolishment of the death penalty. It would be simpler if such decision was in the legal dimension, but the matter is that for us it has a great moral and political importance. In fact, this is the question of people’s trust to the authorities and the deputies have no right to ignore the results of the referendum of 1996,’ stated Huminski.
Commenting on this answer, the human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich pointed that the results of the referendum of 1996 weren’t obligatory and, taking into consideration that the death penalty as a king of punishment was of temporary nature in the Republic of Belarus, it would be logical to take an appropriate legal decision by means of either a presidential decree or a Law adopted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus.
By the way, the latter variant was mentioned in the conclusion of the Constitutional Court of 11 March 2004.
’We, human rights defenders, on our part welcome the intention of the deputies to discuss this issue and conduct a dialogue with the people. We also call on the deputies to hold parliamentary hearings on this issue with participation of as wide range of interested sides as possible, including the Belarusian human rights activists and representatives of international human rights organizations. I am sure that the abolishment of the death penalty in Belarus, which at present remains the only post-Soviet and the only European country that practices this kind of punishment, would significantly improve the international image of the country and would foster the dialogue and cooperation between our country and the EU, as well as restoring its guest status at the PACE,’ thinks Valiantsin Stefanovich.