UN criticizes Belarus for executing Pavel Sialiun
The United Nations Human Rights Committee has published its Views adopted in the case of Pavel Sialiun, who was sentenced to death in Belarus in June 2013. The death convict’s interests were represented by coordinator of the campaign "Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus" Andrei Paluda. The Committee concludes that Pavel Sialiun's right to life under article 6 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was violated, since “the author was sentenced to death after an unfair trial.”
The Committee notes that the State party failed to respect its “request for interim measures by executing the author before the Committee had concluded its consideration of the communication.”
In his complaint, Pavel Sialiun argued that he was “beaten by several police officers and subjected to physical and psychological pressure to force him to confess guilt in a number of crimes.” The Committee said that “due weight must be given to the author’s allegations”, since “those allegations have not been refuted by the State party.”
The Committee also stresses that “the principle of presumption of innocence was not respected in his case, because he was shackled and kept in a metal cage during the court hearings, and was forced to walk with his head close to his knees.” It also notes that “during more than six months of pretrial detention, the author did not have effective and continued access to his lawyers, and that the majority of the investigative actions, such as cross examinations and interrogations, took place in the absence of a lawyer.”
As a result, the Committee considers that the “facts before it disclose a violation of Mr. Selyun’s [Sialiun] rights under article 6, article 7, article 9 (3) and article 14 (2) and (3) (b), (d) and (g) of the Covenant. The State party has also breached its obligations under article 1 of the Optional Protocol.”
On 12 June 2013, the Hrodna Regional Court found Pavel Sialiun guilty of committing several grave offences, including double murder and desecration of corpses, and sentenced him to death. On September 17, the Criminal Division of the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence.
Pavel Sialiun’s mother wrote to President Lukashenka asking him to pardon her son and commute the death penalty to life imprisonment. Pavel also petitioned Lukashenka. However, the head of state dismissed the requests.
Commenting on the Committee’s decision, Andrei Paluda notes the following:
“This is the sixth communication considered by the UN Human Rights Committee, which has once again condemned the violation of the right to life and the right to a fair trial. Moreover, the Committee noted that the sentence was carried out in violation of Rule 92 of its Rules of procedure, according to which the Republic of Belarus had no right to enforce the sentence.”