OSCE/ODIHR Director calls on Belarus to introduce moratorium on death penalty
WARSAW, 18 February 2016 – Today, following the sentencing to death in Minsk of both Sergei Khmelevsky this week and Henadz Yakavitski on 5 January 2016, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), called on Belarus to introduce an immediate moratorium on the death penalty and its complete abolition.
“OSCE participating States have committed themselves to keep the question of abolishing capital punishment under consideration,” Director Link said. “Most of our region now recognizes the inherently cruel, inhuman and degrading nature of capital punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent, represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity and makes miscarriage of justice irreversible.”
On 21 January, Belarus reported to the OSCE Permanent Council that the death penalty is being applied temporary until its abolition is decided and that work on legislation, as well as public discussions on the application of the death penalty in Belarus, continues.
“I feel strongly that the two death sentences handed down so far this year, go against the grain of the ongoing discussions in Belarus and the work of the parliamentary working group on the prospect of abolishing the death penalty,” said Director Link. “There is growing international momentum towards the abolition of the death penalty and I would urge Belarus to join this movement.”
Annually, ODIHR publishes The Death Penalty in the OSCE Area: Background Paper, providing information on the status of the death penalty across the Organization’s 57 participating States. Since the 2015 edition of the Background Paper, Mongolia has become the 52nd participating State to abolish the death penalty in law. Belarus and the United States are the only OSCE participating States to maintain the death penalty in practice.