Statement by the International Commission against the Death Penalty in Belarus

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The International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) condemns the execution of Ryhor Yuzepchuk (45) by authorities in Belarus ; the second in 2014.

The  exact  date  of  Ryhor  Yuzepchuk’s  execution  is  not  clear;  the  Mogilev regional  court  in  western  Belarus  reportedly  confirmed  the  execution  after  it became  public  knowledge  on  8  May.  His  execution  could,  reportedly,  have taken place in April. In Belarus, executions are carried out by shooting; and its Criminal Executive Code provides for the government to not return the bodies of those executed to their families and not to inform them of where their body is buried.

According to reports reaching ICDP, Ryhor Yuzepchuk was initially sentenced to death in April 2013 for the June 2012 murder of his cell mate in a prison in Mogilev. He was already serving a 25-year sentence on charges of committing a double murder. The Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in July 2013.

Mr.  Yuzepchuk’s  execution  is  the  second  execution  to  be  carried  out  by authorities  in  Belarus  this  year.  In  April,  authorities  informed  the  lawyer  of Pavel Selyun (24) that his client had been executed.

In April 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, expressed concern at the lack of transparency that surrounded the death penalty system in the country. Earlier in October 2013, he had stated that “the way the death penalty is carried out in Belarus amounts to inhuman treatment.” Death sentences are often imposed after unfair trials, include  forced  confessions,  and  are  implemented  in  strict  secrecy,  without giving adequate notice to prisoners, their families or legal representatives.

Belarus is the only European country that still carries out executions.

“ICDP and I call on the authorities in Belarus to stop carrying out any further executions,  to  commute  all  death  sentences  to  terms  of  imprisonment  and declare an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of capital punishment in line with United Nations General Assembly Resolutions adopted in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012,” said ICDP President Federico Mayor.

ICDP further calls on Belarus to join some 160 countries from all regions who, according to the United Nations, have abolished the death penalty or do not execute  –  having  recognized  that  modern  justice  systems  can  protect  the public from crime without the irrevocable and cruel nature of the death penalty and the constant risk of executing an innocent person.

Federico Mayor
President of the International Commission  
against the Death Penalty

Background  

ICDP was founded in Madrid in October 2010. The Commission is composed of 15 persons of high international standing from all regions of the world who act  with  total  independence  and  neutrality  and  work  under  its  President  Mr. Federico  Mayor.  ICDP  opposes  the  death  penalty  under  any  circumstances believing that it violates the right to life enshrined in the Universal Declaration of  Human  Rights.  The  Commission  promotes  the  abolition  of  capital punishment in law in those states that observe a de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty and promotes moratoriums on executions in states that  rarely  use  the  death  penalty.  In  states  that  continue  to  carry  out executions,  ICDP  urges  strict  adherence  to  international  standards.  The Commission works with the United Nations and other international and regional organizations, governments and nongovernmental organizations to further the abolition of capital punishment worldwide. The work of the ICDP is supported by a diverse group of 18 states from all regions of the world that are committed to abolition of the death penalty. Its secretariat is based in Geneva.

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