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Death sentences and executions in 2013 29

Sentences are implemented in strict secrecy, without giving adequate notice to prisoners, their families or legal representatives, and despite requests from international bodies such as the Human Rights Committee to suspend executions while international appeals are still pending. Article 175 of the Criminal Executive Code allows the government not to return the bodies of those executed to relatives and not to communicate the place of burial. Rygor Yuzepchuk was sentenced to death on 24 April and Pavel Selyun on 12 June, each for murders committed in 2012. Their appeals to the Supreme Court were turned down. Eduard Lykau was sentenced to death on 26 November for five murders committed in 2002, 2004 and 2011. All confirmed death sentences are automatically referred to the President for consideration of clemency. However, President Alexander Lukashenka has reportedly only granted one stay of execution since he came to power in 1994.

Alyaksandr Haryunou, aged 25, was sentenced to death by the Homel Regional Court on 14 June for the murder of a female student in 2012. His lawyer appealed the verdict and argued, according to a NGO observer, a range of fair trial violations, including that Alyaksandr Haryunou had signed a confession without a lawyer being present and that there was contradictory information about his mental health. On 22 October the Supreme Court overturned the death sentence and returned the case for re-trial. The NGO observer called this move “unprecedented”.42 But on 24 December the Homel Regional court again sentenced Alyaksandr Haryunou to death. In January 2013, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court, Petr Miklashevich, stressed that the question of a moratorium on the death penalty in Belarus remained open and that the Court was ready to consider the issue if relevant requests are made. 43 In June, the parliamentary working group on the death penalty held a round table on “Belarus, Religion and the Death Penalty” together with the Council of Europe in Minsk.44 There, the Patriarchal Exarch of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Filaret, spoke out in favour of abolition of the death penalty. In October, the NGOs Penal Reform International and Belarus Helsinki Committee released an opinion poll finding that, when asked outright, nearly 64% of Belarusians supported the death penalty, while 31% of respondents were opposed. 45 The margin of support is significantly lower than the 80% in a 1996 referendum often referred to by the government. However, there was also widespread support for alternative measures, such as life sentences or a moratorium on executions, and only 37% supported capital punishment “unconditionally”. When asked about what should happen to capital punishment in the future, 47% of respondents said it should be retained as it is at present or even expanded. In contrast, a total of 45% stated that the death penalty should be abolished – immediately or gradually – or that a moratorium on executions should be established, with the sanctity of human life and the risk of judicial error being the main reasons for opposing capital punishment. In October, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, endorsed by the Special Rapporteurs on the independence of the judiciary, on summary executions and on torture, as well as the head of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, urged the Government of Belarus to impose an immediate moratorium on executions. He criticized the fact that “non transparent and politically-guided courts hand down death penalty sentences at the end of a procedure without guarantees of a fair trial or the right to appeal to

Amnesty International March 2014

Index: ACT 50/001/2014

Death sentences and executions 2013  

This report is also available in Arabic, Farsi, French, Russian and Spanish at the following link: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AC...

Death sentences and executions 2013  

This report is also available in Arabic, Farsi, French, Russian and Spanish at the following link: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AC...

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