The issue of the death penalty in Belarus was discussed the other day in Minsk during the round table “Legal aspects of the abolition of the death penalty”. Among the participants of the event was the head of the European Union representation in Belarus Andrea Wiktorin, who once again stated the reluctance of the Belarusian leadership to move forward on this issue.
Andrea Wiktorin urged Alyaksandr Lukashenka to show political will and abolish the death penalty. Usually, the head of Belarus does not lack any will.
“Strong leaders are not those who always follow the public opinion,” Ms Wiktorin said.
However, it is now advantageous for the Belarusian authorities to demonstrate their agreement with public opinion — at least in some issue.
Lukashenka claims he respects the will of the people demonstrated at the referendum and cannot unilaterally cancel the decision to keep the death penalty.
This behavior looks like the trade waith the West, which is usual for the Belarusian authorities. According to experts, the leadership of Belarus is trying to get new preferences from the European Union in exchange for the prospects of abolishing the death penalty. However, there are no visible practical steps after such negotiations.
“This dialogue has been going for a long time. Back in 2004, the Constitutional Court said that the president’s decision or the decision of the parliament is sufficient to abolish the death penalty. It is now 2018. Every year we execute people. But this issue remains, as before,” says human rights activist of the HRC “Viasna” Andrei Paluda.
The Belarusian authorities constantly refer to the will of the people and the referendum. According to experts, compared to 1996, the public opinion on the death penalty has changed significantly.
“I do not support the death penalty. It seems to me that this is barbarism, to be honest — killing for murder,” the passer-by shared his opinion with our channel.
Perhaps, it is barbarity, but it seems that the preservation of the death penalty is a principled personal position of Alyaksandr Lukashenka which stands through all logical arguments.
“I do not think that President Lukashenka does not understand that the existence of the death penalty seriously interferes with our country and our society. He is an experienced politician, and he sees and feels it … In our country there are many unpopular decisions made through political will, including economic issues, ” Andrei Paluda said.
Thus, the authorities are covered by the will of the people, and there is a dialogue for the sake of dialogue with the West — concrete progress is not visible.
Zmitser Mitskevich, Belsat. Photo: REUTERS / Stephen Lam / FORUM