All the journalists present have been asked to leave the conference Death Penalty: Transcending the Divide which is being held in Minsk. According to the guards, Such decision was made by one of the organizers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus.
Belarusian officials, foreign diplomats, representatives of NGOs and clergymen are taking part in the event.
The conference in Minsk was opened by Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, PACE rapporteur on Belarus Andrea Rigoni, former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, and UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus Sanaka Samarasinha.
It is noteworthy that in their statements both Belarusian and foreign participants stressed the need for organizing the extensive dialogue on the issue of the death penalty in Belarusian society.
But after a break the guards asked all representative of mass media to leave the hall referring to the decision of one of the organizers – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. In response, the reporters who were taken aback said that the removal of journalists is hardly a sign of the ‘extensive dialogue’ mentioned above, the Belarusian Association of Journalists reports.
It should be noted that the human rights center ‘Viasna’ (‘Spring’) which has been working on the issue of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus for many years, did not receive an invitation to the conference.
“We are not afraid of either ‘Spring’, or autumn, or winter. People should bow to the reality in the country. The organization is not registered. It will not take part in activities organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Valyantsin Rybakou, deputy Foreign Minister, said.
During the first panel of today’s conference, Mr Rybakou said that our country can discuss the death penalty, but the decision of any problems is to be sought not in confrontation, but through a dialogue.