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Ex-MP: Death penalty can be abolished without referendum

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Mikalai Samaseika. Photo: Euroradio

The death penalty can be abolished without a referendum, ex-member of the work group on capital punishment issues, ex-MP and senior deputy secretary of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia Mikalai Samaseika told Euroradio.

“The death penalty can be abolished by the President or the Parliament. The Constitutional Court decided in 2002. However, full abolishment is problematic because the death penalty is part of the Constitution and it can only be changed at a referendum. However, the same article says that the death penalty is a temporary measure and it means that it can be abolished in the future.

In my opinion, there is no need for a referendum. But it will not be right because we asked the people about it in 1996 and they may accuse us of not asking their opinion this time,” Mikalai Samaseika said.

Even if a referendum is held, everything depends on the way the questions will be asked. If you simply asked “Would you like the death penalty to be abolished?” most people may vote contra. If you asked to choose abolishment, a moratorium or life imprisonment, most people will probably choose a moratorium or life imprisonment, Mikalai Samaseika noted.

Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s recent idea ‘to modernize’ the Constitution has made analysts admit the possibility of a referendum. The abolishment of the death penalty could be one of the referendum questions. However, there will be no referendum, the Belarusian President announced in Parliament on April 24.