Amnesty International publishes Death Penalties and Executions 2014

2015 2015-04-01T23:00:35+0300 2015-04-01T23:19:41+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

This report covers the judicial use of the death penalty for the period January to December 2014. Amnesty International reports only on executions, death sentences and other aspects of the use of the death penalty, such as commutations and exonerations, where there is reasonable confirmation. In many countries governments do not publish information on their use of the death penalty, making confirmation of the use challenging. In Belarus, China and Viet Nam, data on the use of the death penalty is classified as a state secret.

Amnesty International recorded executions in 22 countries in 2014, the same number of countries as in 2013. Although the number remained constant, there were some changes in the countries carrying out executions. Seven countries that executed in 2013 did not do so in 2014 (Bangladesh, Botswana, Indonesia, India, Kuwait, Nigeria and South Sudan) while seven others resumed executions (Belarus, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates [UAE]). Amnesty International was unable to confirm whether judicial executions took place in Syria.

At least 607 executions were carried out worldwide, a decrease of almost 22% compared to the figures recorded for 2013. This figure does not include the number of people who were believed to have been executed in China. At least 2,466 people in 55 countries are known to have been sentenced to death in 2014. This represents an increase of 28% compared with 2013, when 1,925 death sentences were recorded in 57 countries.

The section dedicated to the situation in Europe and Central Asia presents an outline of the situation in Belarus, the only European country where the death penalty is still used.

In April 2014 Belarus secretly executed Pavel Sialiun, sentenced to death in June 2013 for a double murder committed in 2012. The UN Human Rights Committee, the body

overseeing the implementation of the ICCPR to which Belarus is a state party, was

considering Pavel Selyun’s case and had requested a stay of execution pending the

conclusion of this process. Such requests are binding on state parties to the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which Belarus acceded to in 1992.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti,

condemned the execution and urged Belarus to establish a moratorium on the death

penalty. He further condemned the fact that the date of Pavel Selyun’s execution was not made known, and that his mother only learned of the death of her son from his lawyer.

In May the Mahiliou Regional Court confirmed that Ryhor Yuzepchuk had been executed. He was sentenced to death in 2013 for a murder committed in 2012. The authorities have not made public the date of his execution or the location of his grave.

Aliaksandr Hrunou was executed in October. He had been sentenced to death in 2013 for a murder committed in 2012. After the Supreme Court confirmed his death sentence, Alyaksandr Hrunou appealed to the UN Human Rights Committee in April, arguing that his trial had been unfair. The Committee asked the Belarusian authorities to stay his execution until it had considered the case. Aliaksandr Hrunou’s relatives and lawyer were not informed of the date of the execution, nor were they given the opportunity to have a final meeting with him.

In October the UN Human Rights Committee considered the case of Vasil Yuzepchuk,

executed in 2010. The Committee found violations of a number of rights recognized in the ICCPR, including the right to life and the right to a fair trial. The Committee concluded that Vasil Yuzepchuk’s trial did not meet the criteria of independence and impartiality and that he had been tortured to extract a confession.

Eduard Lykau remained on death row. He was sentenced to death on 26 November 2011 by the Minsk Regional Court after being convicted of five murders committed in 2002, 2004 and 2011.

In January 2014, four UN Special Rapporteurs − Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment; and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus − noted the lack of information regarding the trial and conviction of Eduard Lykau and the secrecy of the legal proceedings against him. They expressed concern that the death penalty may have been imposed after a trial that did not conform to the most stringent fair trial and due process guarantees.

In April 2014, following a Supreme Court ruling upholding the death sentence of Eduard Lykau, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus urged the Belarusian authorities to impose an immediate moratorium on death sentences and to refrain from carrying out further executions. In June 2014 the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions expressed concern about the risk of Eduard Lykau’s execution following proceedings marred by secrecy, and called on the authorities to commute his sentence.

«There is no evidence that the death penalty has a greater deterrent effect on crime than terms of imprisonment. Where governments present the death penalty as a solution to crime or insecurity they are not only misleading the public but – in many cases – failing to take steps to realize the goal of abolition recognized in international law,» reads the AI report.

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