Aleksandr Lukashenko signs amnesty bill into law

    Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko signed a law “On amnesty in connection with the Day of People’s Unity” on 8 December.

    The document was developed following the head of state’s instruction. An integral feature of the penal policy in Belarus is to show humanity to persons serving various types of criminal punishment. Amnesty is one of the forms to implement this principle. The state gives an opportunity to reformed convicts to be released early. Amnesty applies only to those who are positively characterized during the period of serving their sentence.

    The law waives criminal penalties (for crimes that do not pose a great public danger or fall into the category of minor crimes) for minors; pregnant women; women and single men who have children under the age of 18 (except for those who committed a crime against a minor); persons who reached the generally established retirement age; disabled people of I and II disability groups; persons with certain diseases; veterans of foreign wars; persons affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident and other radiation accidents, persons who got injuries (concussions), mutilations, diseases during military service or while performing official duties.

    It also provides for the exemption from punishment of persons with a suspended sentence, persons on probation, persons discharged from punishment, persons who were sentenced on the date when the law entered into force; and a number of other categories of convicts.

    Taking into account a certain legislative order, commutation of sentences will be considered individually.

    The amnesty shall not apply to persons who have committed terrorist or extremist crimes. The document describes a number of other cases when the amnesty shall not be applied.

    Traditionally, the law shall apply only to people with good prison behavior  as well as who have fully compensated for the damage caused by the crime committed.

    According to preliminary estimates, 4,500 people are to be granted relief from various kinds of court-ordered sentences and punitive measures; 1,600 of them will be granted early release from prison. In addition, another 4,000 people will have their sentences commuted by one year.