Issue of the death penalty in Belarus to be discussed in Brussels and Strasbourg
Representatives of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and FIDH are going to discuss the issue of the death penalty in Belarus during a visit to the EU structures and the Council of Europe scheduled for the next week.
On February 6-7, Miklós Haraszti, UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus, will join human rights defenders Valiantsin Stefanovich and Andrei Paluda, as well as Sasha Koulaeva of FIDH, in a series of meetings with representatives of the European Union in Brussels.
On February 6, the agenda includes a press conference organized by the UN office in Brussels (11.00 - 12.00 local time), in the afternoon there will be a hearing in the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights (17.00 - 18.30 local time), which can be watched online at the following link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/committees/video?event=20170206-1500-COMMITTEE-DROI. On February 7, the human rights defenders will have a series of meetings, including with the ambassadors of the EU countries and members of EU working groups: COHOM (Working Party on Human Rights) and COEST (Party on Eastern Europe and Central Asia), as well as with the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis.
Speaking of his expectations ahead of the visit to Brussels, Miklós Haraszti said that the policy-makers should not take part in the play, which, in his words, the Belarusian government keeps staging, instead of taking the only right decision — abolishing the death penalty.
“I think we have repeatedly observed this like in a TV series: the government says it is studying the issue, discusses it at conferences with participation of different actors and so on. They say that they want to study the topic, but they still shoot people, because there is still so much to be studied... And it would be funny if it were not tragic. This is cynicism,” said the UN Special Rapporteur. “President Lukashenka says that he’ll never sign a decree on the abolition of the death penalty, unless his Parliament wants him to do so... It’s now the third convocation of the Parliament, which has a working group to study the issue of the death penalty. And we hear from Western politicians positive assessments of the very fact that such a group was created, but this group is not doing anything. That is, the Belarusian authorities do not want to abolish the death penalty, they want to be involved in constant discussion of the issue. Because, if this very natural and very simple step is taken one day, then it will be ‘the end of the movie’, right? Then they will have to take care of all the other human rights...
I think that international bodies should be more serious about this issue, instead of playing this performance together with the Belarusian government. They have to say, “We are sorry, this is a performance, and what we want from you is real action.”
The human rights defenders of Viasna and FIDH will continue their working visit in Strasbourg on February 8, where they will hold meetings with representatives of various departments of the Council of Europe: office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, the Directorate of Political Affairs and the Directorate of Human Rights and Rule of Law.
At next week’s meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg, the human rights defenders will present a joint report prepared by FIDH and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in 2016, “Death Penalty in Belarus: Murder on (Un)lawful Grounds”. “After almost one and a half year break, executions in Belarus resumed in April 2016 after the EU lifted most of the restrictive measures imposed on Belarus for human rights violations. Belarus is the last and single retentionist country in Europe. The EU should go vocal and assure that a moratorium on the death penalty is among “major tangible steps” which should shape the EU's future policy towards Belarus,” says the report.