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.
The Judicial Chamber on Criminal Case of the Supreme Court of Belarus has dismissed an appeal filed by death row prisoner Viktar Skrundzik. The convict will be executed, unless pardoned by Aliaksandr Lukashenka.
Illia Kostseu and Stanislau Kostseu, two brothers sentenced to death in January 2020, have been pardoned, according to their relatives.
While there was an overall trend of decline, some countries pursued or even increased the number of executions carried out, indicating a chilling disregard for human life at a time when the world’s attention focused on protecting people from a deadly virus.