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Opinions & Interviews

8 May 2018

Belarus president reaffirms tough stance on drug pushers

Belarus president reaffirms tough stance on drug pushers

MINSK, 8 May (BelTA) – It is inadmissible to relax the punishments that befall those, who distribute illegal drugs. President of the Supreme Court of Belarus Valentin Sukalo made the relevant statement after meeting with the head of state on 8 May, BelTA has learned.

Valentin Sukalo said: “We’ve talked about future fight against drug abuse and drug-related crimes. The head of state said in no uncertain terms that we cannot relax the punishments for those, who sell and distribute illegal drugs. Prosecution for drug users can be relaxed in some ways. As for the protests staged by the mothers [of people convicted of drug pushing], they are inadmissible and interfere with the execution of justice. It is not the way that should be practiced in Belarus.”

Valentin Sukalo noted that there are legal procedures in place for filing appeals. He stated that only six of the mothers, who had gone on a hunger strike, had appealed to the Supreme Court. “I think two appeals were settled. The punishments were reduced. This is why there is a legal way of contacting the Supreme Court with supervisory appeals on every specific case. But there are no plans to relax punishments across the board, particularly for drug pushers as the head of state said,” said the president of the Supreme Court of Belarus.

Asked about the parliament’s plans to consider relaxing anti-drug laws, Valentin Sukalo said: “This is what I was talking about. A future bill may introduce some leniency only for drug users.”

The president of the Supreme Court also pointed out that the effective legislation provides for alternative ways other than imprisonment to prosecute drug abusers. For instance, custodial restraint for up to five years or imprisonment for two to five years may be enforced for the illegal manufacture, processing, acquisition, storage, transportation, or mailing of narcotic substances, psychotropic substances, or their precursors and analogs with no intent to sell them in line with part 1, article 328 of the Criminal Code. “Custodial restraint is enforced only against 30% of the accused. Those with previous criminal records or possibly persons demonstrating some asocial behavior. The other accused get punishments unrelated to the deprivation of freedom. So, the practice of punishing drug users is balanced and selective,” believes Valentin Sukalo.

“As far as punishments for drug distributors, drug sellers, and drug manufacturers are concerned, then certainly the punishments are tough but the judges have to do their duties. They work within the framework of the effective legislation. They have no right to amend the law. On behalf of the state they pronounce the sentences the law requires,” he added.

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