Saturday, June 22, 2013

Samoseiko: Belarus rejects pressure concerning death penalty

MINSK, 21 June (BelTA) – Belarus will not tolerate pressure regarding possible abolition of the capital punishment, Chairman of the Permanent Commission for International Affairs of the House of Representatives of Belarus Nikolai Samoseiko has said on 21 June. He leads a parliamentary task force that studies the death penalty as a means of punishment. The matter was discussed at the round table “Religion and Death Penalty”, BelTA has learnt.

“One needs to know the mentality of Belarusians to understand that Belarusian people will not tolerate any pressure from outside. We are ready for cooperation in any matter, in particular, in death penalty, but not in the form of sanctions and ultimatums,” the MP said.

He noted that after the 2010 presidential election a number of European countries embraced double standards towards Belarus and it was a major setback for several cooperation programs. “Today’s round table was supposed to be held in February 2011. However, it was postponed up till now. This fact speaks louder than words,” he said.

Nikolai Samoseiko urged European partners to stop linking the work of the parliamentary task force on the death penalty to the work of the judicial system. “Just like in any other democratic country, the parliament of Belarus cannot and is not authorized to interfere with the work of courts. Therefore, I would ask them to understand and accept it,” the MP underlined.

He reminded that an alternative to the capital punishment – life sentence – was introduced in Belarus in 1997 and the first life sentence was given in 1998. As for the maximum prison term, it was increased from 15 to 25 years. In 1999 the list of crimes that were punished by the death penalty was reduced. Now their number makes up 14, including two that can be applied only in the wartime.

Since 1961 the capital punishment in Belarus has been used mostly for murders with aggravating circumstances; since 1981 only for murders with aggravating circumstances. The exception was the Minsk metro blast case. Since 1998 the number of death sentences has considerably dropped. Forty seven death sentences were given in 1998, 2 in 2008, 2 in 2010, 0 in 2012 and 3 in 2013.

A recent survey conducted by the department of marketing and sociological research of the SATIO group of companies has revealed that 63.8% of those polled are in favor of death penalty (36.5% unconditionally and 27.3% under certain circumstances), 45.9% of the respondents believe that the existing penal system is adequate and good enough, 23.2% of those polled called it too lenient.

Source: Belarusian Telegraph Agency, June 22, 2013