Belarus is the only country in Europe that imposes the death penalty and still carries out executions.
Parliament expresses its strong support for reforms leading to democracy in Egypt, and deplores the loss of life in recent clashes in Port Said, in a resolution adopted on Thursday. In two other resolutions, MEPs reiterate their strong commitment to abolition of the death penalty, with special reference to Belarus and Japan.
Recent developments in Egypt
In a resolution on recent developments in Egypt, MEPs express their solidarity with the Egyptian people in this crucial period of democratic transition in the country and calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They underline their strong support for reforms leading to the establishment of democracy, and stress the importance of holding free, fair and transparent elections.
Parliament deplores the considerable loss of life and the high number of injuries in Port Said on 1 February 2012, where at least 74 people were killed and hundreds more were injured after clashes broke out at a football match, and expresses its concern about accusations that the clashes were politically motivated. MEPs therefore call on the Egyptian authorities to initiate an independent investigation of the events in order to bring those responsible to justice.
The situation of NGOs in Egypt is alarming, say MEPs, who call for the criminal charges against NGOs and political foundations to be dropped immediately. They welcome the release of imprisoned bloggers Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Maikel Nabil Sanad, and repeat their call to the Egyptian authorities to guarantee that no blogger, journalist or human rights defender will be subject to direct or indirect harassment or intimidation in the country.
Death penalty in Belarus
The use of death penalty in Belarus is condemned in another resolution highlighting the death sentences handed down to Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou by the Supreme Court on 30 November 2011. It urges Alyaksandr Lukashenka to pardon both men and to impose a moratorium on all death sentences and executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty from the penal system. The two men were sentenced for allegedly committing terrorist attacks in 2005, 2008 and 2011 in Vitebsk and Minsk, but according to reports by human rights organisations (FIDH, Human Rights Watch), there are arguments showing that the trial was unfair and that the investigation was marred by serious human rights abuses.The executions of the two may be carried out very soon.
Underlining that this "irreversible, cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment, which violates the right to life", is unacceptable, MEPs deplore the continuing failure of the Belarusian authorities to take any tangible steps towards abolishing the death penalty or imposing an immediate moratorium on it. They reiterate that the European Union and other international institutions have repeatedly urged the Belarusian authorities to abolish the death penalty.
Finally, they condemn the continuous persecution of human rights defenders and members of the democratic opposition and the harassment of civil society activists and the independent media in Belarus for political reasons and demand the unconditional immediate release of all political prisoners.
Belarus remains the only country in Europe that imposes the death penalty and still carries out executions.
Death penalty in Japan
In a resolution on the death penalty in Japan, MEPs urgently call on the Japanese Minister of Justice, Toshio Ogawa, not to approve any execution order in the future. According to press reports, Ogawa had announced that he did not wish to continue his predecessor's policy of "caution".
MEPs also call on Japan to sustain its efforts towards returning to the de facto moratorium in place from November 1989 to March 1993 and to encourage to a public debate on the use of capital punishment in the country.
2011 was the first year without any execution in Japan since 1992. Some 130 persons sentenced to death in Japan are currently on death row.