As we know, on 5 November 2016 Belarusian citizens Ivan Kulesh, Siarhei Khmialeuski and Henadz Yakavitski were executed in secret in the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ jail No. 1 in Minsk.
Including Siarhei Ivanou, who was shot in April, four persons have already been executed in Belarus in 2016. And the fate of Siarhei Vostrykau, whose death sentence has already come into force and who is held on death row in the Minsk detention centre, is still unknown.
Belarus remains the last country in Europe, which applies this inhumane and barbaric method of punishment in practice.
We, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, condemn the recent executions and stress the following.
The death penalty, which is imposed and enforced on behalf of all citizens of the Republic of Belarus, denies human dignity and integrity of the individual and in no way is a factor deterrent to crime rates. According to our deep conviction, the execution of those sentenced to death is on a par with slavery and torture, it is an extreme form of cruel and inhuman, barbaric and immoral treatment, unacceptable in contemporary society.
The availability and application of capital punishment pose an imminent threat of executing the innocent, a threat of executions for political purposes. None of the judicial systems of the world, including that in Belarus, is perfect enough to insure against a miscarriage of justice.
We are particularly concerned about Belarus’ repeated ignoring of the UN Human Rights Committee’s procedures dealing with the individual communications of persons sentenced to death. Executions in spite of these procedures are a violation of the country’s international obligations in the field of human rights, voluntarily undertaken by its government. It is worth recalling that the UN Human Rights Committee adopted six decisions on individual complaints by Belarusian citizens, which found violations of their right to life, while a ban on handing over the bodies of the executed for burial was deemed as inhuman treatment against their family members.
We, representatives of the human rights community of Belarus, once again reaffirm our position on the total non-acceptance of the death penalty in all circumstances. We are part of a worldwide movement against the death penalty and stand for its global abolition.
We once again call on the Belarusian authorities to:
1. Abolish the death penalty and apply another alternative form of punishment for those convicted of the most serious crimes – life imprisonment.
2. Immediately introduce a moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its complete abolition.
We call on the international community to condemn the recent executions in Belarus.