Death Penalty in Europe and Central Asia: Close to the Finishing Line
On 11 December 1977 Amnesty International and participants of the International Conference on the Abolition of the Death Penalty issued the Stockholm Declaration which called on all governments to bring about the immediate and total abolition of the death penalty. At the time, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty. Forty years on, that figures stands at 105. To mark this anniversary, Amnesty International looks through this newsletter at trends in Europe and Central Asia and takes a closer look at the use of the death penalty in Belarus, the last executioner in the region.
"Today Europe and Central Asia are close to being free from the death penalty. Kazakhstan, Russia and Tajikistan retain the death penalty in law but continue to observe official moratoriums on executions. Kazakhstan, which has abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes such as murder, is the only one of the three to have imposed a death sentence in recent years," Amnesty International said.
"Belarus remains the last executioner in the region, retaining the death penalty for murder. One of the most chilling features of the application of the death penalty in Belarus is the secrecy that surrounds it. We only learn that executions have occurred after the relatives going to the prisons thinking of meeting their beloved ones find out that they “have been moved”, or have been executed," says the newsletter. "Elsewhere in the region, there are sometimes reactive calls for the reintroduction of the death penalty, particularly in the aftermath of attacks that have claimed lives and heightened feelings of insecurity. But serious challenges to abolition have yet to appear. Belarus is the next frontier."
Amnesty International’s newsletter was published on November 30, the day marked within the international campaign “Cities for Life, Cities Against the Death Penalty”, an initiative pioneered by the Community of Sant'Egidio in 2002.
Despite the fact that the Belarusian authorities have not abandoned the death penalty, human rights defenders and civil society activists join the initiative on November 30 each year.