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.
On 11 December 1977 Amnesty International and participants of the International Conference on the Abolition of the Death Penalty issued the Stockholm Declaration which called on all governments to bring about the immediate and total abolition of the death penalty. At the time, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty. Forty years on, that figures stands at 105. To mark this anniversary, Amnesty International looks through this newsletter at trends in Europe and Central Asia and takes a closer look at the use of the death penalty in Belarus, the last executioner in the region.
On the European and World Day against the Death Penalty, the Council of Europe and the European Union reaffirm their strong and unequivocal opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances and for all cases. The death penalty is incompatible with human dignity. It constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment, does not have any proven deterrent effect and allows judicial errors to become irreversible and fatal.
Minsk-Paris, 6 October 2017. Ahead of the International Day against the Death Penalty on the 10th of October, our organisations recall that executions continue to take place in the middle of Europe. Detained in conditions amounting to torture, in constant psychological anguish caused by the uncertainty of the timing of their execution, prisoners in Belarus are being killed in secrecy.