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:

Human rights violations in Belarus discussed at UN side-event


On October 30, 2013 New York City hosted a side event at the UN General Assembly with the participation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Mr. Miklos Haraszti, and the Belarusian and international human rights defenders: Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, Zhanna Litvina, leader of Belarusian Association of Journalists, Sasha Koulaeva, head of FIDH’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Desk.

The event was organized by FIDH, Amnesty International and the Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House, and moderated by Amnesty International’s representative to the UN Jose Luis Diaz.

The event aroused great interest and was attended by many members of national delegations to the United Nations, including the ambassado...

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A modern and just society cannot be based on the ideology of death: Abolish the death penalty!


The 11th World Day Against the Death Penalty is marked today, on October 10, 2013. Throughout the world, civil society activists and abolitionism associations unite to remind the international community about the absurdity of the punishment and the cruelty of executions.

Long Live Death!” With these words, Franco’s rebels would celebrate their victories during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. Thus, states that prefer death to life and barbarism to the mind have always existed and, unfortunately, continue to exist. The death penalty itself is a manifestation of this distorted thinking.

58 more or less affluent countries that are either democracies or dictatorships can now legally sentence one of its citizens to death...

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Supreme Court confirms death verdict for Pavel Sialiun


The Supreme Court dismissed today an appeal against the death sentence handed down on June 12 by the Hrodna Regional Court to Pavel Sialiun, who found guilty of committing four criminal offences, including double murder, theft and desecration of corpses.

The appeal was considered by the panel of judges presided by Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court, Valery Kalinkovich, reports Human Rights Center “Viasna”.

Ahead of the consideration of the appeal, the death convict’s mother addressed the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus Filaret with a request to ask Aliaksandr Lukashenka to pardon her son and abolish the death penalty against him. The Belarusian Orthodox Church has repeatedly opposed the death penalty in Belarus.

Pavel Sialiun will apply for clemency to the President...

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UN Human Rights Council Belarus: refusal to cooperate triggers renewal of the Special Rapporteur mandate


International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Human Rights Center “VIASNA”

Today (13 June 2013), the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution renewing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus and expressing deep concern at continuing violations of human rights in the country.

In strong language, the resolution «urges the Government of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release and rehabilitate all political prisoners, (…) and to put an immediate end to the arbitrary detention of Human Rights Defenders, arbitrary travel bans (…) aimed at intimimidating representatives of the political opposition and the media, as well as human rights defenders and civil society».

The Council sent the clear message to Belarus that ...

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Belarus/Russia side event at UN Human Rights Council

Belarus&Russia side event at HRC23

As part of the 23rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) held a briefing with support from Human Rights Watch on the unwillingness of Russia and Belarus to implement UN decisions.

At the briefing, human rights defenders from these two countries drew parallels between the situations in both countries. They stressed that the UN must issue without delay a sharp criticism of the rapidly shrinking civil society space in the Russian Federation. Otherwise, they noted, human rights defenders will continue to be pushed out of the legal field, their activities will be criminalized, and the situation will quickly come to resemble the one currently observed in Belarus.

Valentin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center, spoke...

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Viasna and FIDH at UN Human Rights Council: statement by Valentin Stefanovich

stefanovich at UNHRC23

Today, at the 23rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus Miklos Haraszti presented his report on the situation in the country.

International human rights organizations and Valentin Stefanovich, Deputy Chair of the Human Right Center Viasna, were invited to participate after the UN member states had a chance to exchange their views.

Find the full version of the presentation made by the Belarusian human rights defender who spoke on behalf of the HRC Viasna, an FIDH member organization in the country :

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Human Rights Defenders: mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus should be renewed


Belarusian Human Rights Defenders hold briefing as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council Session that Opened on May 27 in Geneva.

This event was organized by the international human rights organizations Civicus, Human Rights Watch, FIDH, Amnesty International, and Human Rights House Network. Belarusian participants in the briefing included Oleg Gulak, Chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Tatyana Revyako, representative of the shuttered Human Rights Center Viasna, and Andrey Bastunets, an attorney from the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

In an interview with BelaPAN, Oleg Gulak said that the briefing attracted a great deal of attention. “Over 60 diplomats attended,” he said. “We told them about the situation in Belarus and about how we see it...

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UN Human Rights Committe recognised violations in the case of executed Uladzislau Kavaliou

November 22, 2012

Mrs. Liubou Kavaliova, the mother of Uladzislau Kavaliou (Kovalev), executed for plotting and implementing a lethal blast in Minsk underground in April 2011, received the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee. The complaint was considered in less than a year. The Committee recognized that the investigation was conducted with numerous errors, Kavaliou was subjected to physical violence and forced to testify against himself, the court was not impartial and, most importantly, the right to life was violated.

The complaint was filed to the UN Human Rights Committee on December 14, 2011. It was signed by both Liubou Kavaliova and her daughter Tatsiana Kaziar, and was registered the following day.

During its correspondence with the UN HRC, the Belarusian government const...

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FIDH strongly condemns the execution of two young men after a blatantly unfair trial

Paris, 19 March 2012 – On 16 March 2012, Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou were executed, two days after President Lukashenka rejected their request for clemency. The two men had been condemned to death on 30 November 2011 on charges of plotting a powerful blast in the Minsk underground in April 2011.

These executions are a further illustration of the total absence of an independent judiciary in Belarus, since the guilt of the two young men has not been clearly established and the trial was not fair. These capital shootings look like a way to silence two disturbing witnesses“, said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.

Both men were arrested on 12 April 2011, as the main suspects in orchestrating the explosion which killed 15 people in a metro station of Minsk, situated within 100...

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