Death Penalty

Belarus is the last state in Europe to continue to sentence people to death and to carry out the sentence. International organisations, such as the United Nations, have criticised the Belarus’ methods for executing convicted persons. The continued use of the death penalty is one factor keeping the country out of the Council of Europe. Human rights defenders report that four people have been sentenced to death in Belarus in 2013, that at least three were executed in 2012, two in 2011, two in 2010, with several hundred having been killed since 1994.

Please see the below articles on the mobilisation of human rights defenders against the death penalty in Belarus:

20 days of arrest for Illia Dabratvor


In the Leninsky district court of Minsk investigated an Administrative case of activist Illia Dabratvor. He was arrested before the start of the trial of Yury Rubtsou on September 16. Police officers didn’t like his shirt with the inscription “Freedom for political prisoners” that was the reason for the detention.

Dabratvor was brought to the court. He is accused of violating of the Article 17.1 (disorderly conduct) and 23.4 (disobedience for police officers). Witnesses who are the police officers also claim that Dobrotvor was drunk.

Judge Michail Homa refuses to conduct an examination for the presence of alcohol.

Policemen Victar Hadok and Maskalieu testified at trial that Dobrotvor had been swearing, they admonished him, but he didn’t react on it...

Read More

Statement by the International Commission against the Death Penalty in Belarus

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 J...

Read More

Another execution in Belarus: court verdict against Ryhor Yuzepchuk carried out


Mahilyou regional court informed that Ryhor Yuzepchuk has been executed. 45-year-old man was sentenced to death for killing his cellmate. The cellmate allegedly gambled away his life in domino game.

The death sentence to Ryhor Yuzepchyk was delivered on 25 April 2013, but did cause any considerable public outcry. The reason was the lack of information about the case and the identity of the murderer. For a long time, the authorities did not make even the name of the condemned person public.

Why system is silent about death executions?

On 25 April 2013, Mahilyou regional court sentenced Ryhor Yuzepchuk to death penalty. The case was heard at Mahilyou SIZO (investigative detention centre), and the hearing was closed for the public. The Supreme court upheld the verdict.

The Mahilyou court con...

Read More

Miklós Haraszti : halt further executions


The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, has urged the Belarusian authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on death sentences and to refrain from carrying out further executions.

Mr. Haraszti’s appeal follows the reported execution of Pavel Sialiun and a Supreme Court ruling last week upholding the death sentence against Eduard Lykau, both convicted for murder. Belarus is the only European country that still retains the death penalty.

No reports of executions for a considerable time, despite the imposition of several new death sentences, had filled the international community with the hope that Belarus had started a practical moratorium, which would then lead to a legal moratorium, and finally to the abolition of capital...

Read More

Catherine Ashton strongly condemns latest execution in Belarus


The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today on the latest execution in Belarus:

“The High Representative strongly condemns the execution of Pavel Selyun, who was sentenced to death in June 2013.

The High Representative is conscious of the serious nature of the crimes for which he was convicted. However, she does not believe that capital punishment can ever be justified. The European Union opposes capital punishment under all circumstances. The death penalty is considered to be a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.

The High Representative urges Belarus, t...

Read More

“In the name of the Republic of Belarus”: Pavel Sialiun executed


Death convict Pavel Sialiun is said to have been executed one of these days. Meanwhile, his complaint is still pending before the UN Human Rights Committee. This means that Belarus has once again breached its international obligations.

On 12 June 2013, the Hrodna Regional Court found Pavel Sialiun, 23 years old former student of the Belarusian State University’s History Department, guilty under four articles of the Criminal Code, including double murder, theft and desecration of corpses. The young man had no criminal record. He said his actions were an act of jealousy – he killed his wife and her lover.

For multiple offenses, the trial court sentenced Pavel Sialiun to capital punishment.

The convict appealed against the verdict...

Read More

Another death sentence issued in Belarus


26-year-old Homel resident Aliaksandr Hrunou has been repeatedly sentenced to death. According to the lawyer, the young man does not believe that he can be pardoned by the President, and therefore he is not sure whether he will apply for clemency.

On April 8, the Supreme Court re-heard the appeal of Aliaksandr Hrunou against the death sentence, issued to him by the Homel Regional Court. The young man was charged under Part 6 paragraph 2 of Article 139 of the Criminal Code – murder committed with extreme cruelty.

Story of the murder of a Homel student

September 20, 2012 Aliaksandr Hrunou killed his acquaintance, student Natallia Yemelyanchykava. He kept contacts with her brother. Both of them took part in skinhead movements and had a criminal record...

Read More

Belarusian public opinion on crime and punishment, including the death penalty

In 2013, non-governemental organisation Penal Reform International commissioned a detailed survey of public opinion about crime, punishment and the death penalty in Belarus.

Market researchers, Satio, conducted the survey, interviewing 1,000 participants. The results show that opinions around capital punishment are more varied and nuanced than is often stated, while public attitudes about crime in general are strongly affected by respondents’ social position, background and emotions.

Key findings included:

  1. Support for the death penalty is only 64% – significantly down on the 80% who supported capital punishment in a 1996 referendum.
  2. Concerns about personal safety appeared to be a key reason for supporting the death penalty.
  3. Three-quarters of respondents felt that convicting an innoce...
Read More

Film and debate on human rights in Belarus at Human Rights Film Festival in Geneva


An international human rights film festival took place in Geneva on March 9, 2014. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) dedicated this festival to human rights defenders who symbolize the battle for human dignity and human rights throughout the world. For Belarus, this person is Ales Bialiatski, the imprisoned head of the Human Rights Center Viasna.

The documentary film Europe’s Last Dictator received a public showing as part of this festival. Before the film began, Mariangela Zappia, the EU ambassador to the UN in Geneva, and Sasha Koulaeva, head of the Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk at FIDH, addressed the audience.

After the film, a debate was moderated by the journalist André Loersch...

Read More

Belarus hands down another death sentence


The Human Rights Center “Viasna” learned that another death verdict was pronounced in Belarus. The convict is Eduard Lykov, 53, charged with five episodes of murder while intoxicated. The sentence was handed down by the Minsk Regional Court on November 26, 2013. Lykov has been under investigation since 2011. During this time he has had three counsels.

He is known to have no permanent residence, maintaining contacts with his mother, who lives in Baranavichy. His son lives in Russia, and his daughter – in Germany, but Lykov has no contacts with his children. Lykov was born in Russia, but now he is a Belarusian national.

Andrei Paluda, coordinator of the campaign “Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus”, notes that this case once again demonstrates that the government ...

Read More