PACE rapporteur on Belarus reiterates condemnation of capital punishment

Strasbourg, 21.07.2011 – Following the recent executions of two men, Oleg Grishkovets and Andrei Burdyka, in Belarus, as reported yesterday by the state-run Vecherny Grodno newspaper, Andres Herkel (Estonia, EPP/CD), the rapporteur on Belarus for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has reiterated the Assembly’s long-standing and categorical opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances.

“It is with deep regret that I learnt of these executions in Belarus, a country which I cherish and which I would like to bring closer to the Council of Europe family,” Mr Herkel said. “The Belarusian authorities must cease the application of the death penalty for all offences, and immediately institute a moratorium to spare the lives of those on death row. Furthermore, I find it unacceptable that, according to human rights organisations, neither the prisoners nor their relatives were informed of the date in advance.”

While aiming for the universal abolition of the death penalty, the Council of Europe seeks a moratorium in Belarus, whose “Special guest” status was suspended in 1997 and cannot be reinstated until the country enforces a moratorium on capital punishment and until there is substantial, tangible and verifiable progress in terms of respect for the democratic values and principles upheld by the Council of Europe.