Again: Executions in Belarus are a violation of its international obligations

Belarus has violated its international obligations by executing two death row inmates whose cases were being reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, despite requests to the Government to await the results of the review.

In its press release issued on 27 July 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed its dismay at the second such breach in two years

In its press release the Committee highlights the following elements:

Oleg Grishkovtsov and Andrei Burdyko had alleged that they were subjected to torture at the pre-trial investigation stage and did not receive a fair trial. The Committee had asked Belarus state authorities not to carry out their execution while their cases were under consideration. The exact date of the executions remains unknown but it is presumed that they took place between 13 and 19 July 2011.

On 21 July, the Committee sent a letter to the Belarus Permanent Mission in Geneva, expressing concern over the apparent execution of Mr. Grishkovtsov (Communication No. 2013/2010) and Mr. Burdyko (Communication No. 2017/2010) in violation of the Committee’s request for interim measures of protection. The Committee requested prompt clarifications from the Government but no reply has been received.

“Our requests for interim measures of protection are aimed at averting irreparable harm to alleged victims of human rights violations. The Committee deplores the fact that, by proceeding to execute these two individuals, Belarus has committed a grave breach of its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said Ms. Zonke Zanele Majodina, the Committee’s Chairperson.

“While the Covenant does not as such prohibit the death penalty for the most serious crimes and Belarus is not a State party to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, it is imperative that a death sentence be imposed only in full respect of the right to a fair trial. The imposition of a death sentence after a trial that did not meet the requirements for a fair trial amounts to a violation of articles 14 and 6 of the Covenant.”

This is the second time executions have been carried out in Belarus of individuals whose cases are pending before the Human Rights Committee. In March last year, Andrei Zhuk and Vasily Yuzepchuk were executed despite the Committee’s request for interim measures of protection.

Human Rights Committee’s press release

Press release as published on the website of the Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR Centre)

International community perturbed by executions in Belarus

On 14 April 2010 members of the Human Rights House Network and several other international human rights organisations sent a letter of concern on the executions of two Belarusian citizens -– Andrei Zhuk and Vasil Yuzepchuk. Signatories condemned that the fact of execution as well as deplored Republic of Belarus ignoring its international obligations in human rights:

“We are alarmed by the Republic of Belarus’ constant violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and its permanent lack of implementation of the recommendations adopted by the Human Rights Committee. We call upon you, Mr. President, and the government of the Republic of Belarus, to consider the rule of law as the principle under which penal justice is executed – and to therefore fully implement the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.”

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