Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, expressed hope that Belarus would join the organization and ratify the European Convention on Human Rights.
Speaking at a meeting of the Russian State Duma’s international affairs committee in Moscow, Mr. Jagland emphasized the importance of the convention, which he said provides a Europe-wide system of human rights protection, according to Russia’s Regnum news agency.
Belarus is the only country in Europe that is not a member of the Council of Europe. The main obstacle for Belarus’ accession to the Council is the use of the death penalty.
In 1993, the Belarusian parliament was granted special guest status at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), but was stripped of it in 1996 following a referendum that approved the use of the death penalty in the country.
In June 2009, PACE decided that the Belarusian parliament’s special guest status in the Assembly might be restored only after Minsk imposed a moratorium on the death penalty. The following year Belarus carried out a number of executions safter which PACE advised its members against visiting Belarus.
The use of the death penalty makes it impossible for Belarus to have any status in the Council of Europe, Mr. Jagland told reporters in Strasbourg in January 2012.