Another person sentenced to death in Belarus

Belarusian human rights defenders learned that one of the courts in Belarus issued another death penalty. The decision was made on 26 November 2013 in relation to 53-year-old citizen, who was accused of five cases of murder while intoxicated. The convicted has been under investigation since 2011 and during that time he had changed three lawyers.

It is known that he had no permanent place of residence, and had no contact with his children. The convicted Eduard Lykov was born in Russia, but is a citizen of the Republic of Belarus.

Coordinator of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders against the death penalty in Belarus” Andrei Poluda noted that this case demonstrates once again that the government hides from the public the facts of death sentences and executions: “Officials often say that in Belarus only few people are executed, but if there is no public information about who was sentenced to death, if this information is hidden from the public by the authorities, then it is difficult to appeal to the figures of how many people actually had been executed in Belarus in the name of the state. “

Human rights defenders in their campaign against the death penalty will be monitoring this situation closely. if necessary, they are ready to provide to the accused the legal assistance with an appeal of the trial court and with an appeal to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the president of Belarus Aliaksandr Lukashenka in recent times publicly called for the death penalty in the country. “If you are scum and a bastard, if you go and commit crime again and again, if you kill a person, then what right do you have to live on this earth?” – said Lukashenka recently.

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​​Belarus is the last country in the European area where the death penalty is still practiced. In Belarus, the death sentence is to be executed by a special squad of MIA in Minsk jail №1 by shooting. As in Soviet times, the date and time of execution is not reported, and the body is not given to the relatives, the place of burial is not disclosed.

The atmosphere of secrecy regarding the issues of death penalty in the country should be noted. Representatives of “Human rights defenders against the death penalty in Belarus” campaign , which is working since 2009, known only the amount of passed and executed death penalties.Thus, since 1990 in Belarus 329 people were sentenced to death. Of these, 281 sentence was passed between 1990 and 1999. After 1999 there is a trend to a sharp decrease in the number of convictions.  Thus, from 2000 to 2013 50 death sentences were issued. This fact is primarily associated with the appearance in 1998 in the Criminal Code of Belarus an alternative punishment to the death penalty – life imprisonment.

Call for urgent action to United Nations special rapporteurs

On 2 January 2014, the Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) issued a call for urgent action on the sentencing of Eduard Lykov to the United Nations Nations Special Rapporteurs on the human rights situation in Belarus Miklós Haraszti and on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment Juan Mendez. Authorities in Belarus need to suspend the execution of Eduard Lykov and further communicate all details of his trials and convictions.

“The death penalty in the Republic of Belarus is carried out in secrecy, including without communicating the date of the execution to the legal representation of the convicted person and to his/her family,” said Florian Irminger, HRHF’s Head of Advocacy and Geneva Office, underlining the need for a clear call from UN special rapporteurs.

On 9 October 2013 Miklós Haraszti had already called upon the Government of the Republic of Belarus to “use these new sentences as the starting point of a practical moratorium on actual executions, while focusing the work in its welcome parliamentary Committee set up to study the death penalty, on putting in place a legal moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to its abolition.” “It is unacceptable that Belarusians must live in the fear that non transparent and politically-guided courts hand down death penalty sentences at the end of a procedure without guarantees of a fair trial or the right to appeal to international bodies,” Miklós Haraszti stressed.

Use of death penalty continues in Belarus despite international pressure

Capital punishment in the Republic of Belarus continues to violate international human rights standards and mechanisms, and denies basic human dignities.

Despite international calls for its abolition, the death penalty remains an instrument for punishment in Belarus. In a country plagued by human rights abuses, with a history of violations of the right to a fair trial, the continued use of the death penalty is particularly alarming. A coalition of NGOs submitted the report “Death Penalty in the Republic of Belarus” to the United Nations Secretary General  in May 2012 revealing some concerning trends.

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