News for January 2016

30.01.2016 United Kingdom

The death penalty was used in the UK since the founding of the state. It had been abolished for the first time in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, but was reinstated by his son, William Rufus.

30.01.2016 Corruption and imperfect judiciary, the risk of an unfair, biased trial

Any criminal justice system may commit acts of discrimination. Expediency, short-term solutions and the pressure of public opinion – all these factors can affect all stages of the proceedings, starting from the initial investigation and ending with the last-minute decision on clemency. It means that those who will be eventually be put to death may be not really the worst offenders, but only people who were not able to hire the best lawyers, faced harsher prosecutors or judges or weren't defended by the public.

30.01.2016 Execution breeds violence in society

A State which supports the death penalty, in fact, states that killing is an acceptable way to solve social issues. If there is no man, there is no problem.

30.01.2016 Execution does not serve justice

Of course, a dead person can not commit any future crimes. However, the purpose of criminal punishment is not only the prevention of new crimes both by convicts and other persons. Criminal liability is aimed at correcting the offender, and "aims to contribute to the restoration of social justice. The conviction of the culprit is the basis for the recovery of property damage and financial compensation for moral damages from him.” As we can see, the moral harm to relatives of the innocent victims can be compensated financially, and not by shooting the culprit.

30.01.2016 Death penalty has no effect on a number of reasons for which crimes are committed

The claim that capital punishment deters criminals comes from the fact that those people who commit murders and other crimes punishable by death also think about the possibility of being executed before the crime. This assumption is based on a completely distorted picture of the offenders and the conditions in which they commit crimes. Most of these crimes are committed in a state of stress during a time of great emotional turmoil or under the influence of drugs or alcohol – that is, when there is no logical thinking and rational considerations. Some of these crimes are committed by very unbalanced or mentally ill persons. Such criminals don't think about the punishment which they may face if they are caught.

30.01.2016 Ineffectiveness in crime prevention

There is a widespread opinion that the death penalty deters crime. Such statements are often made by the governments that impose the death penalty. However, there are no statistics or other data.

30.01.2016 Non-transparent procedure, bringing suffering to the relatives

Despite the commitments as a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to "provide the public with information regarding the use of the death penalty", all information on the passed and enforced sentences is classified.

30.01.2016 Killings of political opponents, mass repressions, the risk of premeditated murder justified by law

In 1999, Viktar Hanchar, Anatol Krasouski and Yury Zakharanka went missing in Belarus. To date, their cases have not been investigated despite the existence of sufficient evidence proving the involvement of the top-rank state officials and the demands of the international community that effective measures be taken for a proper investigation.

30.01.2016 Executioners – professional killers acting on behalf of the state

In countries where the death penalty is applied, there is an institution of legal killers who commit premeditated murder. All information on the enforcement of the death penalty in Belarus is a state secret. However, the former head of Minsk remand prison No. 1 Aleh Alkayeu described in detail how and by whom the work is performed.

30.01.2016 Miscarriage of justice and the inability to correct it

It is impossible to avoid errors. Irrespective of the procedural safeguards provided by the judicial system and the achievements of science and technology, this system will always be managed by people – and to err is human. Moreover, mistakes are made by far more often than imagined by the majority. In 1975, the “Birmingham Six” were sentenced for life. 15 years later, in March 1991, the UK Court of Appeal overturned the conviction due to the absence of sufficient evidence. In 1976, there were convicted the “Guildfour Four”, for which the British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered public apologies thirty years later. All these people wouldn't have lived to hear the apologies had the death penalty been applied in the UK.

30.01.2016 Why the death penalty should be abolished

The death penalty has been and remains a very emotional topic, especially in the times of terrorism and armed conflicts.

30.01.2016 Italy

The main user of the capital punishment in the history of Italy was the Holy Inquisition, although formally the ecclesiastical court did not execute people, but was authorized by Pope Innocent IV (1252) only to torture during the investigation. The Church was to use every effort to return the heretic to the Church; if he persisted, or if his conversion was feigned – at first the verdict was a simple condemnation for heresy and was accompanied by excommunication or declaration that the defendant was no longer under the jurisdiction of the Church and was passed to the temporal authorities. Over time, the sentences for the transmission to the secular authorities started being accompanied with the words “debita animadversione puniendum”, “shall be punished according to merit”.

30.01.2016 You can help

Regardless of what you are, a media editor, lawyer, school teacher or university lecturer, student or office clerk, irrespective of your employment or social status, you can help us in our efforts to change the social attitude and achieve the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty.

Minsk court ends ‘graffiti case’ trial with lenient sentence

30.01.2016 Minsk court ends ‘graffiti case’ trial with lenient sentence

Judge Ala Skuratovich of Minsk’s Frunzienski District Court announced yesterday evening her verdict in so called ‘graffiti case’ trial, sentencing the three defendants to fines ranging from 6.3 to 10.5 mln rubles (USD 300-500).

Arrest of Ales Bialiatski’s property cancelled

29.01.2016 Arrest of Ales Bialiatski’s property cancelled

On January 28, Viasna leader Ales Bialiatski received a letter from the department of compulsory execution of Minsk’s Partyzanski district in response to his appeal against a decision to arrest part of his Minsk apartment where he lives with his family.

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