Belarus moratorium a condition for closer ties with Europe
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted on June 23 to restore the “special guest” status of the Belarusian parliament only “after a moratorium on the execution of the death penalty is decreed” in Europe’s last retentionist.
The special guest status would bring Belarus closer to becoming a member of the Council of Europe. It was granted in 1992, then suspended in 1997 in the absence of progress in the areas of democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The PACE’s political affairs committee had recommended its restoration on May 26 amid tensions surrounding Western Europe’s gas supplies from the region.
The Council of Europe is a regional organization that comprises 47 countries and extends as far as Russia. Its mandate includes the defense of human rights across Europe and the abolition of the death penalty is an obligation to become a member state.
World Coalition’s call answered
In a letter sent on June 19 to the PACE’s rapporteur on the situation in Belarus, Andrea Rigoni, the World Coalition hailed “the important work of PACE and of the Council of Europe”, thanks to which “the European continent became the largest area in the world where death penalty is outlawed”.
The World Coalition was “expecting official commitments by the Belarusian authorities aiming at abolition” in the wake of its improving relations with the Council of Europe, including an immediate moratorium on capital punishment.
World Coalition member organisation Amnesty International launched a report and a campaign on the death penalty in Belarus in March, including an on-going postcard-sending effort aimed at president Lukashenko.
There has been recent calls by international abolitionists to organise demonstrations and turn the spotlight on the country during the PACE’s plenary session.