Amnesty International launches urgent action after two new death sentences in Belarus
Two men were sentenced to death in Belarus on 20 January after their sentences of life imprisonment were quashed on appeal. They are the first two people to be sentenced to death in 2018, bringing the total number of people on death row in Belarus, according to the Belarusian authorities, to seven.
On 20 January, Minsk City Court sentenced Viachaslau Sukharko (Sukharka) and Aliaksandr Zhylnikau to death. In March 2017, the two men were found guilty of murdering three people in December 2015 and were sentenced to life imprisonment. In July 2017, following an appeal by the prosecutor, the Supreme Court sent their case back to the lower court for a retrial, which resulted in them being sentenced to death. If the Supreme Court upholds the sentences, as is likely, and the presidential pardon is also denied, Viachaslau Sukharko and Aliaksandr Zhylnikau will be at risk of imminent execution.
Despite mounting domestic and international pressure, Belarus remains the only country in Europe and Central Asia which continues to apply the death penalty. In addition to Viachaslau Sukharko and Aliaksandr Zhylnikau, five other men are believed to be on death row in Belarus.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
Please write immediately in Belarusian, Russian or your own language:
- Urging President Lukashenka to halt any planned executions and immediately commute the death sentences of Viachaslau Sukharko and Aliaksandr Zhylnikau and all others sentenced to death in Belarus;
- Calling on President Lukashenka to establish an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
- Stress that, while we are not seeking to downplay the seriousness of the crimes committed, research shows that the death penalty does not have a unique deterrent effect and that it is the ultimate denial of human rights.