Miklós Haraszti: “The bloody reality of Belarus’ judicial system stains Europe”
GENEVA (5 December 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, has said that the recent executions carried out by Belarus, and confirmed last week, show once again the persistent disregard for human rights in the country.
“I strongly condemn the recent executions of Sergey Khmelevski, Ivan Kulesh, and Guennadi Yakovitsky,” Mr. Haraszti said. “The three executions testify once again to the blatant disdain of Belarusian authorities for the right to life and also their staunch non-cooperation with the international human rights system.”
The expert explained that the cases of Mr. Khmelevski and Mr. Yakovitsky were pending before the UN Human Rights Committee, which has oversight power on Belarus’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As a signatory to the Covenant, Belarus is obliged to wait out and respond to the Committee’s judgements.
“I am dismayed by open defiance of international human rights procedures by the judicial apparatus of Belarus. These executions bring their total number to four since the beginning of the year,” the Rapporteur said, recalling the case of Sergey Ivanov, who was executed earlier this year, despite of the fact that his case was also pending before the Human Rights Committee.
“The execution of the three came only days after the Government abstained at the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on a resolution on a global moratorium for the death penalty, a stance that many on the continent and beyond evaluated as promising,” Mr. Haraszti said.
“In a few weeks, the Belarusian Government will also co-organize an international event ‘studying’ the abolition of the death penalty,” he noted. “The authorities have repeated this ambiguous practice several times over the years, while executions went on uninterrupted.”
Belarus continues to be the only country in Europe and Central Asia that applies the death penalty, which exclude the country from being part of the Council of Europe.
“I continue to be very concerned for those in the death row in Belarus. Once again, I call upon the Belarusian authorities to adopt soonest a moratorium on the death penalty,” the Special Rapporteur said. “In the meantime, the President could use his power to commute death sentences into life sentences, as provided by the Constitution.”