EP calls for moratorium on death penalty in Belarus


In a resolution unanimously supported on Thursday by the European Parliament, President Lukashenko is asked to pardon the two young men sentenced to death over the Minsk bombing in April 2011.

As reported here, two young men were convicted of the Minsk metro bombing in April 2011 and sentenced to death by the Belarusian Supreme Court.  Grave doubts about the case have been expressed by many human rights organizations, including the Viasna Human Rights Centre and Amnesty International.

On 15 December the UN Human Rights Committee registered an individual report of a violation of the right to life and right to a fair trial by Lyubov Kovalyova [Liubou Kavalyova from the Belarusian], one of the men’s mothers. The case is registered under No. 2120/2011.

A note has been sent to the Belarusian authorities asking that they do not carry out the death penalty before the case has been considered.

According to Charter 97 (who were more successful in searching the new EP website!) “The use of death penalty in Belarus is condemned in another resolution highlighting the death sentences handed down to Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavalyou by the Supreme Court on 30 November 2011. It urges Alyaksandr Lukashenka to pardon both men and to impose a moratorium on all death sentences and executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty from the penal system. The two men were sentenced for allegedly committing terrorist attacks in 2005, 2008 and 2011 in Vitebsk and Minsk, but according to reports by human rights organisations (FIDH, Human Rights Watch), there are arguments showing that the trial was unfair and that the investigation was marred by serious human rights abuses.The executions of the two may be carried out very soon.

Underlining that this "irreversible, cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment, which violates the right to life", is unacceptable, MEPs deplore the continuing failure of the Belarusian authorities to take any tangible steps towards abolishing the death penalty or imposing an immediate moratorium on it. They reiterate that the European Union and other international institutions have repeatedly urged the Belarusian authorities to abolish the death penalty.

Finally, they condemn the continuous persecution of human rights defenders and members of the democratic opposition and the harassment of civil society activists and the independent media in Belarus for political reasons and demand the unconditional immediate release of all political prisoners.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe that imposes the death penalty and still carries out executions.”

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