Belarus is the last country in Europe and former Soviet Union that is still carrying out the death penalty. Amnesty International, Human Rights Centre “Viasna”, Belarusian Helsinki Committee and other human rights defenders in Belarus oppose the death penalty in all cases without exception. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life, guaranteed by the Constitution of Belarus and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Nothing can justify the purposeful and ruthless taking of a human life by State.
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After World War II the international community rethought the value of each human life and declared the right to life of every human being regardless of the social status. In 1971, a UN resolution was the first step towards the universal abolition of the death penalty. To date, the total number of countries that have abolished the death penalty in law or do not use it in practice is 140 out of 192.
Belarus is the last country in Europe and the post-Soviet space that continues using the death penalty towards its citizens every year. Despite the commitments as a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to "provide the public with information regarding the use of the death penalty", all information on passed and enforced sentences remains classified.
Vladimir Vardanyan (Armenia, EPP/CD), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the abolition of the death penalty, has condemned the handing down in Belarus of a death sentence on Viktar Skrundzik for the murder of two elderly people and an attempt to murder an elderly woman in January 2019.
At a court hearing held today in the city of Sluck, the Minsk Regional Court handed down a death verdict to Viktar Skrundzik on charges of killing two elderly persons and attempting to murder an 85-year-old woman in January 2019. Three other defendants in the trial were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.
Today on the World and European Day Against the Death Penalty, the European Union and the Council of Europe reaffirm their opposition to the use of capital punishment in all circumstances and call for the universal abolition of the death penalty. We welcome the continued decline in the use of the death penalty, confirming the overall trend towards universal abolition.