Abolition of death penalty in Belarus, Supreme Court misses opportunity to quash death sentences

Yves Cruchten (Luxembourg, SOC), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the abolition of the death penalty, and Andrea Rigoni (Italy, ALDE), PACE rapporteur on the situation in Belarus, have denounced the upholding of two death sentences by the Supreme Court of Belarus.

“Although we had denounced the two death sentences handed down by the Mogilev regional court in Belarus over the Summer, the Supreme Court of Belarus has rejected the appeal against those. This is a missed opportunity to send a signal demonstrating a trend towards abolishing capital punishment,” they said. “The Parliamentary Assembly will never stop to affirm its absolute opposition to capital punishment and will relentlessly continue to fight to secure the universal abolition of this inhumane punishment,” they added.

“We once again urge the Belarusian authorities to join the European family of abolitionists by first introducing, as a matter of urgency, a moratorium on executions. Nothing in the Belarusian Constitution or legislation would prevent President Lukashenko or the Parliament from taking this step. A moratorium is simply a question of political will and it is past time for the Belarusian authorities to take some concrete steps to demonstrate this will,” they reaffirmed. “This development also comes at a particularly unfortunate time, just after the conference on criminal appeals co-organised by Belarus and the Council of Europe in Minsk and Mr Rigoni’s participation in the last meeting of the Working Group on the death penalty issue in Minsk end of November.”