05 Dec 2012

Belarus lawyer scoops major human rights award

A leading anti-death penalty lawyer from Belarus has picked up a major European human rights award for his campaigning work, it was announced today.

Belarus: still executing

Belarus: still executing

Pavel Sapelko was presented with the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) 2012 human rights award at a ceremony held at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Political prisoners

A well-known defender of human rights, Mr Sapelko has been involved with numerous campaigns, with perhaps the most high-profile being support for activists for the abolition of the death penalty in Belarus, the only state in Europe where it is still imposed.
Mr Sapelko has also defended political prisoners, despite threats from state authorities and his subsequent exclusion from the Minsk Bar Association following alleged pressure from state authorities.

Difficult times

Accepting the award last week from the CCBE – which represents the bars and law societies across Europe -- Mr Sapelko said: ‘I truly believe that the bar in Belarus will face difficult times. However, the time will come when we, Belarusian lawyers, will take our rightful place next to European lawyers, and Belarus – next to European states.’