PACE Rapporteurs condemn death sentence handed down in Belarus

Strasbourg, 03.05.2013 – Marina Schuster (Germany, ALDE), the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly's newly-appointed General Rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty*, and Andres Herkel (Estonia, EPP/CD), rapporteur on the situation in Belarus, have expressed their dismay at the first death sentence handed down in Belarus since the execution of the purported Minsk metro bombers in 2012. Earlier this week, Mr Yuzepchuk was sentenced to death for killing a cellmate.

“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. 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,” the rapporteurs stressed.

Mr Herkel presented proposals for action in respect of relations between the Parliamentary Assembly and Belarus at a meeting of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy on 25 April 2013 in Strasbourg. As a result, the committee decided to invite representatives of the Belarusian parliament for an exchange of views to organise a seminar on the abolition of the death penalty, in co-operation with the Belarusian parliamentary working group on capital punishment.

* Marina Schuster was appointed General Rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on 25 April 2013, following the departure of former rapporteur Renate Wohlwend (Liechtenstein, EPP/CD) from the Assembly.

PACE has addressed the death penalty in observer states of the Council of Europe in Resolution 1807 (2011), and condemned Belarus’ recourse to it in Resolution 1857 (2012).