Two Belarusian MPs to discuss death penalty issue during meeting of PACE’s committee in Strasbourg
Two members of the House of Representatives will participate in a meeting of PACE’s Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy that will take place in Strasbourg on Thursday and deal with the issue of the abolition of the death penalty in Belarus, among others.
The delegation will consist of Mikalay Samaseyka, chairman of the Committee on International Affairs in the House of Representatives and of the National Assembly's working group on the death penalty, and Alyaksandr Zazulya, chairman of the Committee on State System Building and Local Self-government and Rules of Procedure.
In an interview with BelaPAN, Mr. Samaseyka said that he was scheduled to deliver a speech at the meeting to describe the Belarusian government’s stance on the death penalty issue.
In a statement issued on May 3, Marina Schuster, PACE’s general rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty, and Andres Herkel, PACE’s rapporteur on Belarus, expressed their dismay at a death sentence imposed on an inmate of a Mahilyow prison for murdering a cellmate who had lost a game of dominoes to him, with the stake being life.
"Despite the signs indicating the prospect of a moratorium on the death penalty and recent progress in Belarus’ relationship with the Parliamentary Assembly, this execution would remove Belarus further from the strong European consensus against the death penalty," Ms. Schuster and Mr. Herkel stressed in their joint statement on May 3. "We call on the authorities in Belarus, through whatever means necessary, to prevent it from taking place. The death penalty as a form of punishment is an unacceptable violation of human rights, irrespective of the crime committed."
Belarus is the only country in Europe and the post-Soviet region where the death sentence remains a sentencing option and prisoners are executed. The European Union and other international organizations have repeatedly called on the Belarusian government to abolish the death penalty or declare a moratorium on it. Three people have been sentenced to death in Belarus this year.
On April 24, 2013, a panel of the Mahilyow Regional Court imposed the death penalty on the Mahilyow prison’s inmate, Ryhor Yuzepchuk.
On June 12, a judge of the Hrodna Regional Court sentenced a young man to death for brutally murdering his wife and her alleged lover in Hrodna in August 2012.
Two days later, a judge of the Homyel Regional Court imposed the death penalty on a man who murdered a young woman, stabbing her 102 times in the head, neck, chest, arms and legs with a knife.