Ban on issuing bodies of death convicts legal, says MP

2015 2015-01-26T16:47:34+0300 2015-01-26T16:47:34+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Liudmila Mikhalkova, Chair of the Standing Committee on Legislation of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus, has replied to a petition of Volha Hrunova, the mother of Aliaksandr Hrunou, who was executed for the brutal murder of a student in Homel. Ms. Hrunova asked the Parliament to change the law that prohibits issuing bodies of executed prisoners for burial.

A refusal to issue the body for burial and a failure to report the burial site cannot be regarded as a criminal sanction, which is appointed by a court. Non-issuance of the body can be treated as a separate administrative and legal enforcement decision, writes Ms. Mikhalkova. In such cases, the refusal serves as a measure of an administrative nature, which has a preventive purpose and at the same time is a definite limitation of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the MP says. And at the same time, she argues the execution of a death verdict shall be carried out so as to inflict the minimum possible suffering:

“Obviously, this refers not only to the suffering of the convict, but also of other people. Therefore, Part 2 of Article 175 of the Criminal Executive Code provides that the execution is non-public and separate for each convict, in the absence of strangers. For the same reason, Part 5 of Article 175 of the CEC says that the convict’s body is not given for burial and the place of burial is not disclosed. Thus, the nonpublic nature of the death penalty applies not only to the very procedure of its implementation, but also to the process of burying the body of the executed person. This prohibition includes the anonymous procedure of the burial.”

The provision of Part 5 of Article of the CEC, which, in fact, is a definite limitation of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, however, according to the Committee’s head, may be recognized to be admissible as it has goals that are protected by the Constitution and are necessary to ensure public order, health or morals, and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others – that is, the relevant provisions of Article 23 of the Constitution of Belarus, concludes Ms. Mikhalkova. Therefore, she argues that there is no reason to initiate before the Constitutional Court the issue of non-compliance of Article 175 of the CEC with Article 25 of the Constitution and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.