Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (31 May) on the execution of two death sentences in Belarus:
It was with great concern that I heard the news that two more death sentences were allegedly carried out in Belarus on 16 May.
The death penalty is an inhumane form of punishment that cannot be reconciled with our fundamental European values. The German Government thus rejects the death penalty under all circumstances and is campaigning with its European partners for its worldwide abolition.
I call on the Belarusian Government to refrain from imposing and executing the death sentence. An immediate moratorium on executions would be a first step in this direction. However, these recent executions send a most regrettable signal.
Belarus is the only country in Europe in which death sentences are still handed down and carried out. This is why Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe. A referendum conducted in Belarus in 1996 confirmed there was widespread support for the death penalty.
Two people were sentenced to death as recently as January 2018, while the most recent execution was carried out in October 2017. However, this only came to light in March 2018.
During his visit to Minsk in November 2017, then Foreign Minister Gabriel called upon President Lukashenko to abolish the death penalty. The Human Rights Commissioner also travelled to Belarus in March 2017 in order to appeal directly to the Government.