Petition to Abolish Death Penalty Handed Over to President’s Administration
People of good will from all over the world call on Belarus authorities to take a first step towards abolition of death penalty by imposing a moratorium on death sentences.
Amnesty International representative Aisha Jung brought the petition together with human rights defenders form Viasna – Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich and Andrei Paluda, coordinator of the campaign for abolition of death penalty in Belarus.
The petition states that Belarus is the last country in Europe applying death sentences; since 1990, over 400 people have been convicted, and only one death sentence has been overturned on appeal. In 2017, one death execution has already been carried out: the Homel resident Siarhei Vostrykau had his appeal dismissed by the Supreme Court and was shot dead in late April. One more person is awaiting execution – Mazyr town resident Kiryl Kazachok who refused to appeal the death sentence.
The petition was registered, the law requires an official reply to be given within a month.
The action takes place in the context of the Civil Society Parallel Forum that had been held on July 4, before the 26th annual session of the PA OSCE in Minsk. The Parallel Forum has adopted a resolution, condemning the death penalty as a violation of the right to life:
“To our dismay, two countries of the OSCE region still practice capital punishment, an extreme form of denial of the right to life. These are Belarus and the United States. In Belarus, death penalty is also a form of torture for the convict and his family. The lack of fair trial and swift implementation of the court decision on execution, in open disregard to review of these cases by the UN Human Rights Committee, makes correction of a possible judicial miscarriage impossible. In the U.S., execution in a number of reported cases is a torture-like procedure, and judicial miscarriages in the cases of death penalty verdict have been documented. Heinous practice of government killing its own citizens is a challenge to the very concept of 5 human rights. We call on both states to immediately stop this cruel practice and abolish it legally. We also express our strongest concern about recent instances of justification of capital punishment in the eyes of the public and calling for its reinstatement by high-level officials in some OSCE participating States.”
An accidental passer-by was Christian Holm, a deputy of Swedish parliament, who also heartily supported the action for abolition of death penalty. “First, I speak for abolition of death penalty in all countries without exception, not only in Belarus. There are some other kinds of punishment for especially dangerous criminals. Secondly, I speak for that judiciary should be independent and just, which will allow avoiding mistakes,” said Mr Holm.