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Council of Ministers may recall amendments to anti-drug law

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Convicts’ relatives are asking to mitigate the punishment for their children / Maria Vaitovich, Euroradio

Tatstsyana Kaneuskaya and Liyana Shuba, mothers of people jailed for violating the anti-drug law, attended a meeting dedicated to changes to article 328 of the Criminal Code in the Belarusian Parliament on April 10. They tried convincing representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the necessity of mitigating the punishment and decreasing the minimal term of imprisonment indicated in the anti-drug law. Tatstsyana Kaneuskaya shared her ‘ambiguous impressions of the meeting’ with Euroradio later.

Tatstsyana Kaneuskaya / Maria Vaitovich, Euroradio

"I have ambiguous impressions,” she said. “The MIA is dead set against the mitigation of the punishment. The toughening of the measures has brought its results, head of the anti-drug department Henadz Kazakevich thinks. The number of drug-related crimes has decreased in Belarus, he explained. However, the import of drugs has not decreased and the MIA has confirmed it.”

MP Natallya Guivik supported the amendments to the anti-drug law, Kaneuskaya said.

"It was astonishing! She supported us so much and her words were so convincing that Kazakevich dropped his eyes. She said a very simple thing: ‘The mitigation of the punishment will not create obstacles to your work. You will keep arresting criminals the same way. It will not affect you. Why are you opposing to the changes?’ He could not say anything.”

Convicts’ relatives are welcoming Liyana Shuba and Tatstsyana Kanueskaya near the Parliament / Maria Vaitovich, Euroradio

Head of the defense department of the Council of Ministers Dzmitry Kirushchanka was also against the decrease of the minimal term of imprisonment indicated in the anti-drug law, Kaneuskaya said:

"We were shocked. Why? You initiated the project yourself and now you are against it. ‘Why did you spend so much time working on the project and are opposing to you own suggestion now?’ Natallya Guivik asked. Please, reply. Do not shift responsibility onto the House of Representatives blaming it for not approving the draft.’ He lowered his head and did not know what to say."

The final decision as regards the amendments to the anti-drug law must be made by the Council of Ministers within 10 days, Kaneuskaya said.

"They said it at the meeting,” she explained. “The Council of Ministers will either approve the amendments or they will remain in the House of Representatives and MPs will need to vote on them in the second reading.”