Alena Laptsionak: the death penalty is the murder on behalf of the state
Human rights activists
announce a "Week against the death penalty". The
culmination of the week will be 10 October, the World Day against the
Death Penalty. On that day a press-conference with the relatives of
death convicts, and some other events will take place. Belarus is the
only country in Europe where the death penalty is still used. A
member of the Human Rights Center “Viasn” Alena Laptsionak paid a
visit to our studio.
RR: Belarus is the only country in Europe where such kind of punishment as the death penalty is used. Is Belarus ready to refuse from the death penalty?
Alena Laptsionak: When we ask whether “Belarus is ready”, we need to understand that we mean, first of all, the state, the country's leadership. Now there are no obstacles for abolishing the death penalty or introducing a moratorium on it. However, there is no political will for it either.
in order to abolish the death penalty or a moratorium . But do not have the political will.
RR: The campaign "Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty" has been held long enough... I think that there is progress in the fact that Belarusians are starting to realize that this kind of penalty does not meet humane standards.
Alena Laptsionak: It's hard to talk about the opinion of the majority of Belarusians. This topic is raised only by independent media and human rights defenders. That's why sometimes people think that it is necessary only for human rights defenders, whereas our task is to raise a discussion in the society, a wide discussion with the participation of the state institution and media.
RR: But the very issue of the death penalty is not that wide. It concerns a person who commits a crime and is punished for it. Why should I, an ordinary person, care?
Alena Laptsionak: It is the question of life and death – a deeply philosophical one. THe death penalty is the murder on behalf of the state. And if we demand to execute the killer who committed the murder, are were better than him? It is necessary to think about it. Very often supporters of the death penalty say, "What if a member of your family was killed?" First of all, it is incorrect. And secondly, why do you propose to take the role of the victim , not the role of the convicted ? Or the role of the executioner who carries out the sentence ? Let's take the place of the executor and take the gun in your hands... Would you do it?
RR: As it is stated in the plans of the “Week against the death penalty”, a website will start working and topical discussions will be held in Minsk and the regions... Hence , human rights activists realize that there is too little information on this topic in the society nowadays. Is the issue of the death penalty rational or emotional?
Alena Laptsionak: We again return to the question, that in the case of the death penalty a muder on behalf of the state takes place, and the state is devoid of emotion.
RR: After the execution by shooting of Uladzislau Kavaliou and Dzmitry Kanavalau, the issue of the death penalty spread inthe society, as far as the people who watched the court proceedings, couldn't understand whether these people had really committed it and the courty system could be trusted.
Alena Laptsionak: If we take that big case, from the very beginning the authorities started to show how fast they disclosed the case. However, there were many inconsistencies, and that even among the victims there were many people who did not believe that those two people were involved in this crime, and raised this wave. The evidence base was weak . But they were shot ... and everything got quite after it.
RR: How would you assess the present discussion about the death penalty in the society?
Alena Laptsionak: At present this topic is raised by independent media, but these are non-state media, whereas we strive for a discussion at all levels.