Statement "On the execution of the death sentences in the Republic of Belarus"

Acting on behalf of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus (CIC), which brings together representatives of human rights organizations from the OSCE countries, as well as international civil society networks and organizations;
monitoring the overall situation with the observance of fundamental human rights in the Republic of Belarus;
emphasizing that human rights are subject of direct and legitimate concern of international civil society;
urging the Belarusian authorities to follow the undertaken international obligations on human rights, in particular, to guarantee the right to life,

the International Observation Mission:
1. Expresses condolences to the families and friends of Vladislav Kovalev and Dmitry Konovalov, due to the fact that on March 17, 2012 it became known that death sentences have been executed in relation to them.
2. Once again expresses its strong sympathy with the families and friends of the victims of the terrorist attack in the Minsk subway on April 11, 2011, and believes that the perpetrators of the act should be punished in accordance with the national legislation and international law.
3. Regrets, though, that the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko did not use his statutory right to the grant clemency petition by Vladislav Kovalev, despite a strong public concern and numerous calls from intergovernmental organizations.
4. Recalls that in the Republic of Belarus death sentences are passed by the Supreme Court and there is no mechanism for court appeal against them, which is contradictory to paragraph 6 of the Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, adopted by the UN ECOSOC ("Anyone sentenced to death shall have the right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction, and steps should be taken to ensure that such appeals shall become mandatory").
5. Stresses that the execution of this death sentence became another violation of the international obligations undertaken by the Republic of Belarus in the field of human rights and the rule of law, as far as the execution of punishment for the persons sentenced to the death penalty, who appealed against the violation of their rights to the UN Human Rights Committee, should be suspended for the period of consideration of the appeal. This requirement has been violated in the case of Vladislav Kovalev, as well as in several other recent cases (inter alia, in the cases of Oleg Grishkovtsov and Andrey Burdyko in 2011).

In relation to the above, the International Observation Mission calls upon:
- the authorities of the Republic of Belarus to immediately impose moratorium on execution of the death sentences as a first step towards the complete abolition of the death penalty as inhumane and ineffective punishment, which has already been done by an overwhelming majority of the OSCE Participating States and have been repeatedly recommended to the Republic of Belarus by intergovernmental organizations, in particular by the UN Human Rights Council within the process of the Universal Periodic Review (2010), in the recommendations of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism report (2011) and in the Concluding Observations of the UN Committee against Torture (2011);
- the OSCE Participating States to make every possible effort to promote complete and final abolition of the death penalty throughout the OSCE area, including the Republic of Belarus, in accordance with the provisions of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Resolution “On a moratorium on the death penalty and towards its abolition” (Vilnius, June 19 – July 3, 2009);
- the authorities of the United States of America to demonstrate the political will to abolish the capital punishment at the level of federal legislation, thereby contributing to the achievement of the goal of final abolition of the death penalty throughout the OSCE area and giving a positive example to the authorities of the Republic of Belarus;
- national and international non-governmental organizations from the OSCE area to launch a broad international advocacy campaign for the complete and final abolition of the death penalty in our countries.

March 19th, 2012

News of Belarus

PACE rapporteur dismayed by harassment of Viasna human rights centre in Belarus

Strasbourg, 21.11.2012 – Andres Herkel (Estonia, EPP/CD), the rapporteur on Belarus of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has expressed his dismay that the “Viasna” human rights centre in Minsk has been ordered to vacate its office by 27 November, following a year of obscure legal procedures which transferred ownership of the apartment in which the office is located to the state.

Valiantsin Stefanovich: "Viasna" will continue its work in all circumstances

It was reported on Saturday that the confiscation of the office of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" was scheduled for November 26. Human rights defenders stress that the news was not a surprise for the activists of the organization and they would continue their work in all circumstances.