24 January 2012 – Brussels
Commenting on a court decision on Belarus’ human rights activist Ales Bialiatski and on the death penalty confirmations for Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz stated :
I deplore today’s decision by the Minsk district court to dismiss an appeal against a four and a half year prison sentence for Ales Bialiatski, a prominent human right activist. This is another bad day for justice in Belarus.
The European Parliament believes that the tax evasion charges against Bialiatski have been politically motivated and unjustified. Bialiatski should be released unconditionally along with the remaining 14 political prisoners, including two former presidential candidates. I regret the court’s decision to shut down the offices of Human Rights Centre Viasna, which had been led by Bialiatski.
I also condemn the decision of the Belarus Supreme Court to uphold death penalty sentence to Uladzislau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau, convicted on dubious charges for carrying out a terrorist attack in Minsk subway in April 2011. Their execution is imminent, although international human rights groups reported that the trial had not been fair and the case may have been fabricated.
I urge President Lukashenka to pardon the two men and to introduce a moratorium on death penalty.
I also welcome yesterday’s decision of the Foreign Affairs Council to broaden the restrictive measures against Belarus officials involved in human rights violations. However, those sanctions should go further and target companies directly financing the regime, as requested by resolutions of the European Parliament.
The European Parliament supports Belarus human rights organisations and the civil society. It believes the European Union should offer visa facilitation for Belarus citizens.