Results of “Satio” survey: society is under-informed about the death penalty
Satio conducted a large research on crime and punishment in
The study revealed an ambivalent attitude to the death penalty among its supporters and opponents. More than a half of the questioned citizens (63.8 %) of Belarus spoke for its abolition. What is important in clarifying the attitude to alternative kinds of punishment (life imprisonment, the moratorium on the death penalty), they also gained an extensive support among the respondents.
The main argument of the strong supporters of the death penalty is that a crime must ensue an adequate punishment. An additional argument is the feeling of security given by the existence of the death penalty in the society.
The main argument of the diehard opponents of the death penalty is the value of human life. It is quite interesting that 73.5 % of respondents fear miscarriages of justice and hold the position that it is worse to condemn an innocent that to leave a guilty unpunished. According to the regional director of the Moscow office of Penal Reform Int. Victoryia Siarheyeva, this can be regarded as a phenomenon of Belarus.
“We were also surprised to find that 33% of respondents don't have information about the death penalty, and 5.5% are convinced that a moratorium on the death penalty has been introduced in our country. This shows how much the society is under-informed about such an important topic as the death penalty."
The expert added that the media also do not pay enough attention to the topic of the death penalty. Only 6% of respondents said that they read about the death penalty in the media.
Belarus is the only country in Europe which still retains the death penalty. This is one of the reasons why our country is not included in the Council of Europe. Officials and MPs have repeatedly stressed that the pressure of the EU concerning the abolition of the death penalty is interference in the internal affairs of the state, meaning that the abolition of the death penalty is first of all a political issue. However, as shown by the Satio survey, the attention of the European Union and the possibility of Belarus to accede to the Council of Europe don't have a great effect on the attitude of ordinary people to the problem, they do not consider this argument as essential.
The presentation of the results of the survey was attended by the representatives of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty." As stated by its coordinator Andrei Paluda, the study confirmed the importance of the information campaign on the matter. “We are glad that since 2009 the issue of the death penalty has become a media issue. However, we would like it mentioned not only on the eve of the World Day against the Death Penalty, 10 October, but throughout the year. We can change the people's mind only by presenting them full information and
alternatives,” stated the human rights defender.
The results of the Satio survey are based on personal interviews with 1,100 residents of Belarus aged 18-75 and the results of six focus groups, held this year. The study was implemented on the order of Penal Reform International.