21.05.2000 | O.Pastushenko, Ukrainian branch of Amnesty International

The UNO Commission on human rights adopted the resolution about the complete abolishment of the death penalty in the whole world


Amnesty International believes that the adoption of this resolution will force the world to make another step in the abolishment of the death penalty. The resolution was adopted by a considerable majority: 38 votes for, 11 votes again and 12 abstained. Ukraine did not take part in the voting, since she is not a member of the UNO Commission of human rights.

Amnesty International steadily supported the abolishment of the death penalty, since the organization regards it as a kind of torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment. Our organization more than once appealed to the Ukrainian government to fulfil the international obligations and abolish the death penalty for all kinds of crimes, regardless of the time (peaceful time or during a war) when it was committed. In spite of the fact that death verdicts have not been executed in Ukraine since March 1997, the judicial machine continues to condemn to death. In the past year not less than 146 death verdicts were given. This year the Ukrainian courts have condemned to death about a dozen of criminals.

The resolution in question was suggested by Germany on behalf of the Council of Europe. In particular, the document confirms again the obligation of all member-countries not to condemn to death people who were younger than 18-year-old at the moment of committing the crime. Another statement points out that the death penalty cannot be applied to people who suffer from psychic troubles.

The Amnesty International believes that the latter prohibition more than once was violated in Ukraine. In particular, the human rights protection organization appeals to carry out an independent psychiatric expertise for Anatoliy Onoprienko, who was condemned to death by Zhitomir region court. Amnesty International declares that it possesses information which testifies against the psychic health of Onoprienko.

Amnesty International considers that the state power must be responsible for guaranteeing human rights with respect to all citizens. That is why our organization is worried by the irresponsible statement of the speaker of the Supreme Rada Mr. Tkachenko, who said that Anatoliy Onoprienko ‘has lost the right to be called a human being, and so he cannot be a subject of the moratorium on executing the death penalty’.

The resolution in question stresses that it is not admissible to extradite people to the countries where they can be executed. In this connection Amnesty International declares that it was a violation of the international obligations given by Ukraine, in particular it was a violation of Article 3 of the Convention against torture, when Ukraine gave out to Uzbekistan four people suspected of the organization of a terrorist act in Tashkent.

Amnesty International is convinced that thew world progress in the field of human rights and, in particular, the abolishment of the death penalty must be followed in Ukraine.

Editor in charge of the issue - Evhen Zakharov

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