Amnesty International presents report on death penalty in Minsk
On 24 March the international human rights organization Amnesty International presented its annual report on the use of the death penalty. The report underlines that Belarus is the only European country which still uses the capital punishment.
Nicola Duckworth, Director of the AI Program for Europe and Central Asia, stresses that the death penalty is the most inhuman, cruel and degrading form of punishment: ‘There is no room for hanging, beheading, electrocution, lethal injection or lapidating in the 21th century.’
According to Mrs.Duckworth, Amnesty International thinks that the death penalty violates the fundamental right to life and therefore it advocates against the death penalty in any cases without exception, notwithstanding the nature of the crime, the personality of the criminal or the manner in which the state murders the convict. The human rights activist thinks that the death penalty is a deliberate and cold-blooded murder of a human being, executed by the state for the sake of justice. According to Mrs.Duckworth, crime victims do deserve a triumph of justice, but the truth is that the death penalty does not reduce crime rates more efficiently than any other measures, but can only divert from efficient precaution measures and thorough investigation, by substituting it for simplified solutions to complicated human problems.
Nicola Duckworth stressed that the convict’s families are neither informed about the date of the execution, nor the place of his burial, which is a source of extra suffering. In 2008 Belarus has carried out at least 4 executions and is the only country in Europe and Central Asia which still uses the punishment, after Uzbekistan abolished the death penalty in January 2008.
Amnesty International estimates that as many as 400 people may have been executed since Belarus gained its independence in 1991.
Heather McGill, Amnesty International's researcher on Belarus, also said that the issue is extremely secret in Belarus, the authorities being reluctant to share information on the issue. The Belarusian authorities have repeatedly ignored Amnesty International’s proposals for cooperation and assistance during the preparation of the report.
Amnesty International called upon the Belarusian authorities immediately to declare a moratorium on the death penalty. ‘It is high time this human rights violation were put an end to. By publishing the report we are starting an international campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Belarus’, said Mrs.McGill.