UN Human Rights Committee admits violation of Vasil Yuzepchuk's right to life by Belarus
The case of the resident of the Drahichyn district Vasil Yuzepchuk was considered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in October 2014. The Committee admitted violation of paragraph 3 of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as Yuzepchuk was not brought before a judge promptly to address the issue of his arrest.
The Committee also found a violation by the State of Art. 7 of the Covenant, which prohibits torture and inhuman treatment. After detention Mr. Yuzepchuk was tortured: he was beaten by police officers, starved, thrown into solitary confinement, force fed vodka and unknown pills. Under duress, Vasil Yuzepchuk confessed to committing a series of murders of women pensioners in Drahichyn area, but then he recanted his confession and reported torture. After that, he was placed in isolation and tortured again to make him confess again. Vasil Yuzepchuk repeatedly stated about torture, but these claims were not considered properly.
Human rights lawyer Raman Kisliak, who representsVasil Yuzepchuk's interests at the Committee, noted that the international body also concluded that the trial of Vasil Yuzepchuk failed to meet the criteria of independence and impartiality, the proof of guilt was circumstantial and did not allow an unambiguous conclusion about the guilt. None of the conducted forensic examinations confirmed the guilt of the convicted person. The Committee considers that the condemnation to death as a result of the trial did not meet the requirements of Art. 14 of the Covenant (the minimum guarantees for fair trial), and evidences arbitrary deprivation of life, that is a violation of the right to life (art. 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights).
According to Mr. Roman Kisliak, the case of Vasil Yuzepchuk is already the third one in which the Committee has identified a violation of the right to life in connection with the imposition of the death penalty.
Vasil Yuzepchuk isan ethnic Roma who had mental retardation, poorly oriented in time and was illiterate. Brest Regional Court convicted him of the murders with aggravating circumstances and sentenced him to death in July 2009. The sentence came into force on October 2, 2009, after hearing of the appeal at the Supreme Court of Belarus.
The case of Vasil Yuzepchuk was registered atthe United Nations Human Rights Committee on October 12, 2009. The Committee adopted protection measures, informing the government about the need to refrain from executing the death penalty while the case is pending before the Committee. Nevertheless, in March 2010, Vasil Yuzepchuk was shot.