Statement by the International Commission against the Death Penalty on Belarus: Execution of Ryhor Yuzepchuk

2014 2014-05-23T12:53:57+0300 2014-05-23T12:53:57+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
International Commission against the Death Penalty

International Commission against the Death Penalty

The International Commission against the Death Penalty (ICDP) condemns the execution  of  Ryhor  Yuzepchuk  (45)  by  authorities  in  Belarus;  the  second  in
The  exact  date  of  Ryhor  Yuzepchuk’s  execution  is  not  clear;  the  Mogilev
regional  court  in  western  Belarus  reportedly  confirmed  the  execution  after  it
became  public  knowledge  on  8  May.  His  execution  could,  reportedly,  have
taken place in April. In Belarus, executions are carried out by shooting; and its
Criminal Executive Code provides for the government to not return the bodies
of those executed to their families and not to inform them of where their body is
According to reports reaching ICDP, Ryhor Yuzepchuk was initially sentenced
to death in April 2013 for the June 2012 murder of his cell mate in a prison in
Mogilev. He was already serving a 25-year sentence on charges of committing
a double murder. The Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in July 2013.  
Mr.  Yuzepchuk’s  execution  is  the  second  execution  to  be  carried  out  by
authorities  in  Belarus  this  year.  In  April,  authorities  informed  the  lawyer  of
Pavel Selyun (24) that his client had been executed.
In April 2014, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in
Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, expressed concern at the lack of transparency that
surrounded the death penalty system in the country. Earlier in October 2013,
he had stated that “the way the death penalty is carried out in Belarus amounts
to inhuman treatment.” Death sentences are often imposed after unfair trials,
include  forced  confessions,  and  are  implemented  in  strict  secrecy,  without
giving adequate notice to prisoners, their families or legal representatives.  
Belarus is the only European country that still carries out executions.
“ICDP and I call on the authorities in Belarus to stop carrying out any further
executions,  to  commute  all  death  sentences  to  terms  of  imprisonment  and
declare an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of
capital punishment in line with United Nations General Assembly Resolutions
adopted in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012,” said ICDP President Federico Mayor.  
ICDP further calls on Belarus to join some 160 countries from all regions who,
according to the United Nations, have abolished the death penalty or do not
execute  –  having  recognized  that  modern  justice  systems  can  protect  the
public from crime without the irrevocable and cruel nature of the death penalty
and the constant risk of executing an innocent person.  
Federico Mayor
President of the International Commission  
against the Death Penalty
ICDP was founded in Madrid in October 2010. The Commission is composed
of 15 persons of high international standing from all regions of the world who
act  with  total  independence  and  neutrality  and  work  under  its  President  Mr.
Federico  Mayor.  ICDP  opposes  the  death  penalty  under  any  circumstances
believing that it violates the right to life enshrined in the Universal Declaration
of  Human  Rights.  The  Commission  promotes  the  abolition  of  capital
punishment in law in those states that observe a de facto moratorium on the
use of the death penalty and promotes moratoriums on executions in states
that  rarely  use  the  death  penalty.  In  states  that  continue  to  carry  out
executions,  ICDP  urges  strict  adherence  to  international  standards.  The
Commission works with the United Nations and other international and regional
organizations, governments and nongovernmental organizations to further the
abolition of capital punishment worldwide. The work of the ICDP is supported
by a diverse group of 18 states from all regions of the world that are committed
to abolition of the death penalty. Its secretariat is based in Geneva.