AI and EU speak against execution of persons charged with terrorist attack in Minsk metro

2011 2011-12-01T17:45:46+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

After the verdict of the Supreme Court of Belarus to Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou has become known, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland has called upon Belarusian authorities not to carry into execution the judgment of death. BelaPAN has been informed about that by the press-service of the Council of Europe.

“I call upon the Belarusian authorities to overturn the death sentence issued to Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou today,” said the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. “The crime they have been found guilty of, was a barbarian one, but the punishment should not be like this. Belarus is the only country in Europe, where people are still killed legally. I am urging the authorities to set a moratorium on capital punishment. Victims and families of those who had been injured on 11 April, deserve justice, but not revenge.”

Markus Loening, German Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, has also condemned the death sentences to Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou, and demanded to substitute the punishment with a prison term.

“I feel compassion for the victims of the terrible blast in Minsk metro and to their families. However the federal government is against death sentences on principle,” Markus Loening said. According to him, the death penalty is not an adequate method, neither as a punishment nor as the means to combat crime.

“No one can ever rule out a miscarriage of justice. That is why I am calling upon the Belarusian government to abolish the death penalty immediately, and as the first step to set moratorium on execution of the death sentences,” the Ombudsman said.

“The death sentences are one of the items in the long list of human rights violations in Belarus. I am calling upon the Belarusian authorities to respect human rights and civil rights at last,” Markus Loening stated.

The PACE rapporteur on Belarus and on death penalty issues Andreas Herkel and Renate Wohlwend are disappointed by the verdict to Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou.

“It is incredible, that Belarus continues to blindly ignore all calls of the international community on setting a moratorium on death penalty. Such an irreversible, cruel and inhuman type of punishment is unacceptable in the civilized society, no matter what crime was. Besides, many human rights activists who followed this case, express doubts in guilt of the accused,” the statement reads.

The rapporteurs have also expressed regret that the work of the group on death penalty abolition created in the Chamber of representatives of the National Assembly of Belarus ended with no results, and “deputies in Belarus do not dare to make a stand against the death penalty.”

The press-service of the PACE has also informed that Mr Herkel is preparing a report for the Political Committee of the Assembly, which is to be approved at the session on December 14 with the further discussion in the framework of the PACE session in January 2012.

Deputy director of Amnesty International Europe and Central Asian programmes group John Dalhausen, stated that the trial over Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou fell short of international standards of a just court trial.

Dalhausen has serious misgivings that violence had been used against the accused, in order to draw confession from them. It is said in the statement that Belarus is the last country in Europe and in the post-Soviet space where death penalty is used.

The AI representative reminded that the death penalty is irreversible and called upon Aliaksandr Lukashenka to set a moratorium on it immediately.

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