MINSK, 28 September (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko offered his take on death penalty as he presided over the extended session of the Constitutional Commission in Minsk on 28 September, BelTA has learned.
During the session Candidate of Economic Sciences Sergei Dubkov, a member of the Constitutional Commission, expressed his opinion on Article 24 of the current Constitution, which provides for the death penalty. “I think there is a mental trap here. On the one hand, the proposed amendments [to the Constitution] strengthen the traditional values of the Belarusian society. These traditional values are based on Christian values, inherent in the mental cultural code of the Belarusian nation. These amendments have been supported by the majority of members of the Constitutional Commission. At the same time, one of the fundamental Christian values - the right to life - stands apart. On the one hand, we strengthen the fundamental traditional values but disregard them with respect to death penalty," he said.
Sergei Dubkov admitted that any solution to this issue will probably cause contradictions in society one way or another. Yet, he said, we cannot call ourselves Christians, advocate for traditional values and violate them at the same time.
"This point of view is common, understandable, motivated, and reasonable. The emphasis is made on Christian values. Here is an example, maybe not quite to the point. Christians live in our country and in the West. Recently, Switzerland has held a referendum, and, which surprised me, about 65% voted in favor of same-sex marriages. How does this correlate with Christian values?” the head of state asked a rhetorical question. “Theoretically, it is hard to refute what was said. The Constitution, however, is not a theoretical treatise. It is a reflection of what is going on in our society. It is our future, at least some foreseeable future,” he said.
"Let us stay down to earth after all. Although, I do not refute that point of view. I am aware of it. This issue has been repeatedly discussed,” the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko added that he had often been criticized that Belarus was the only country in Europe that neither abolished nor introduced a moratorium on the death penalty. “I have always said that I cannot sign a decree contrary to what was decided at the referendum. The West would not hear that. They listened to my reasonings and then criticized me behind my back. But you have to agree that I did an honest thing. I did not go against the people's opinion. However, if I had signed a decree suspending the use of the death penalty, I think my approval ratings would not have worsened. But I did not do this because I knew I could not. But because the people voted in favor of the death penalty by overwhelming majority, if I am not mistaken,” the head of state explained his position.
Aleksandr Lukashenko admitted he had repeatedly contemplated revealing to the general public some crimes committed by those sentenced to capital punishment. “When you see all that, you will understand whether it has to be abolished or not,” he said.
The president remarked that some argue in favor of abolishing capital punishment by saying capital punishment is not used in Western countries. “You and I have already seen how things are in the West. They don't care about human lives. Did you see how people tried to hang on to aircraft wheels and dropped to their deaths in Afghanistan? Did they survive? Not a single one did. Let's discuss a recent example in the United States of America, ‘a bastion of democracy': they delivered a strike in Afghanistan where terrorists were. And they offered an apology recently but 12 children are dead,” Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out.
“Opinions differ greatly on the death penalty issue. They truly do. However, if we raise this issue today, I think that the majority will be in favor of keeping [the death penalty],” said the head of state.
The president concurred with the opinion that the death penalty issue should be dealt with later. “If we have to, we should deal with this issue at a separate referendum. And tell people about it,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.