Sviatlana Zhuk continues struggling for the right to know the place of burial of her son
On 13 December the Minsk City Court considered the cassation
appeal of the mother of the executed convict Andrei Zhuk against the verdict of
the Leninski District Court of Minsk concerning the refusal to bring an
administrative case against the inaction of the MIA Punishment Execution
Department that had refused to issue to her the body of the executed son or
inform her about the place of his burial.
Judicial Board of the Minsk City Court, consisting of Judges Mikhail Basau, Alena Kruh and Alena Troska showed a formal approach to the consideration of the cassation appeal, referring to the provision of Article 175 of the Criminal-Executive Code, ‘the body is not issued for the burial and the place of burial is not disclosed’. As a result, the verdict of the court of initial jurisdiction was left standing.
Meanwhile, according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the total secrecy with regard to the place of the burial of the executed persons and the refusal to issue their bodies to their families are equaled to the intimidation or punishment of the families, as they are intentionally left in a state of uncertainty and mental distress. Such explanation of Article 7 of the Covenant was given by the UN Human Rights Committee in two similar cases against Belarus that were considered by it in 2003. Unfortunately, the Belarusian authorities continue ignoring decisions of the Human Rights Committee.
Human rights defender Andrei Paluda, who attended the court session at the Minsk City Court, noted that ‘despite the strong feelings and a poor emotional state of Andrei Zhuk’s parents durign the trial, they expressed a strong desire to walk this difficult path to the end and to receive information about the place of the burial of their son, because uncertainty is the most difficult thing to endure. I am convinced that their efforts and the efforts to repeal the provisions of Article 175 of the Criminal-Execution Code will eventually give some results. During our yesterday’s talk Sviatlana Zhuk said that even if it didn’t happen soon, someday the humane right to bury one’s child or at least be informed about the place of the burial would be returned to parents.’
Bear in mind that on 17 July 2009 the Minsk Region Court found two residents of the Salihorsk district, Ivan Sarokin and Andrei Zhuk, guilty of robbery and killing of the state enterprise Balshavik-Ahra carrying money to pay the wages to workers of the enterprise on 27 February 2009. In March 2010 25-year-old convict Andrei Zhuk was sentenced to death for these crimes.