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Belarus: PACE rapporteurs deplore new death sentence

Meritxell Mateu (Andorra, ALDE), 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, deplore that for the second time since the beginning of 2016, a death sentence was handed down by a Belarusian court.

“We are particularly worried that the death sentence reportedly handed down on 15 February 2016 in the case of “Kh.” was the result of an appeal interjected by the prosecution against an initial sentence of life imprisonment. The very fact that the prosecution appealed against a life sentence as being “too lenient” casts a dark shadow on the attitude still prevailing among senior law enforcement bodies in Belarus with regard to capital punishment.”

“This attitude is in stark contrast with more progressive signals recently received from Minsk on different issues, which have prompted the international community to drop most sanctions against President Lukashenko and his supporters. We continue to insist that any progress in relations with the Parliamentary Assembly depends on progress towards the abolition of the death penalty, starting with the introduction of a moratorium on executions.”

Mr Rigoni intends to participate in an international conference on “Death penalty: Transcending the Divide” on 10 March 2016 in Minsk, organised by the United Nations Development Programme in Belarus, in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus and with support from the British Embassy in Minsk.