UN Human Rights Committee rules in the case of Uladzislau Kavaliou
Mrs. Liubou Kavaliova, the mother of Uladzislau Kavaliou (Kovalev), executed
for plotting and implementing a lethal blast in Minsk underground in April
2011, received the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee. The complaint
was considered in less than a year. The
Committee recognized that the investigation was conducted with numerous errors,
Kavaliou was subjected to physical violence and forced to testify against
himself, the court was not impartial and, most importantly, the right to life was
The complaint was filed to the UN Human Rights Committee on December 14, 2011. It was signed by both Liubou Kavaliova and her daughter Tatsiana Kaziar, and was registered the following day.
During its correspondence with the UN HRC, the Belarusian government constantly challenged the registration of the complaint, while the procedures have never been appealed by any country. In their responses, the Belarusian authorities stressed that it was already known that the Committee's decision would be politicized, and therefore Belarus would not take it into account.
On November 21, Liubou Kavaliova received the final decision of the HRC, dated November 14. According to lawyer and human rights defender Raman Kisliak, it was the first time the Committee considered the case so quickly. "Usually it takes 3-5 years, one of the Belarusian cases was considered for as long as 9 years. 4 more cases on Belarusian executions are still pending at the UN HRC. Perhaps they will be considered next year," says Mr. Kisliak.
The Belarusian government did not comment on the Committee’s finding on the alleged use of violence against the death convict, no investigation that could have refuted these facts was conducted. Another violation referred to in the Committee’s findings is that Kavaliou was not brought to court after his arrest, so that a judge could decided whether he should be held in jail, or released on his own recognizance. Apart from that, the presumption of innocence was violated in Kavaliou’s case. He was held handcuffed in a cage during the court hearing. This is how he was shown in the media, and this has shaped the attitude to him as a criminal. In addition, the state media did not restrain themselves in their evaluations of the accused, calling Kavaliou a terrorist before sentencing (for example, the news agency BelTA). The Supreme Court, which heard the case of the explosion in the Minsk metro, was not impartial, stresses the Committee’s decision. The conclusion is based on the fact that motions by defense lawyer Stanislau Abrazhei were constantly rejected, and those by Prosecutor Aliaksei Stuk were always granted. The HRC also admitted that the Belaruisn judiciary violated the right to life and the right to appeal against conviction and sentence. As for the rights of applicants (Liubou Kavaliova and Tatsiana Kaziar), the HRC found a violation of the family’s right to regain the body of the executed, as well as information on the time and place of his burial. Moreover, the Committee recommended changing Par. 5 Art. 175 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits issuing the body to the relatives. It also recommended that the state published the decision in the state-run mass media. The document has been sent to the applicants (Kovaleva and Kaziar), and to representatives of the government (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
According to lawyer Raman Kisliak, the state actually abstained from providing explanations and comments on the case. In July, the government sent to the Committee the film "Underground" produced by the Agency of TV News (1 Channel of state-owned TV), and, surprisingly, in German, although the working languages of the UN HRC are Russian and English.
Liubou Kavaliova said: "Unfortunately, the death penalty has nothing to change. But my problem is to rehabilitate my son in the eyes of people. The decision of the UN Human Rights Committee confirms that our questions and claims to the investigation and the trial were reasonable. That is, the real terrorists are at large. Moreover, the police are not looking for them. We will disseminate information on the Committee's decision in the media, so that more people could learn what is really going on in our law enforcement and judicial system."
Raman Kisliak added that human rights defenders will also contribute to the dissemination of the information and do their utmost to force the state to pay more attention to conclusions by the UN HRC and contribute to systemic changes in the future.