Minsk ponders death penalty moratorium benefits

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April 22, 2016 18:28

On April 11th, Alexander Hessel, Council of Europe Director for political issues visited Minsk.

Meetings in Minsk with CoE representative, Alexander Hessel, imply that Belarus is considering options to open an additional communication channel with the EU. In addition, Belarus may try to "swap" a moratorium on the death penalty with one of the conditions for the resumption of EU-Belarus dialogue.

In Minsk, Mr. Hessel gave a lecture at the Belarusian State University, met with Foreign Ministry officials and the Constitutional Court. Meeting at the Constitutional Court in particular, may be regarded as an implication that the Belarusian authorities are considering a moratorium on the death penalty as an option. Moratorium on the death penalty is an obligatory condition for the resumption of talks for Belarus’ accession to the Council of Europe.

The day after Hessel’s visit, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Jean-Claude Minion made a statement about the Council of Europe’s readiness to continue talks with Belarus about its membership in the CoE, but only if the moratorium on the death penalty was introduced. According to Mignon, such a step would show that Belarus “shares European values”.

If Belarusian authorities see benefits from the resumption of the dialogue with the CoE, they might include the moratorium on the death penalty in the negotiations package put forward by the EU (release and rehabilitation of political prisoners, democratization of the political system, etc). In particular, the authorities may try to “swap” the moratorium with the demand of political prisoners’ rehabilitation.

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