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Belarus: Amnesty International deplores the execution of Siarhei Ivanou

    May 11, 2016

    Amnesty International strongly condemns the execution of 22-year old Siarhei Ivanou in Belarus. He is the first person known to have been executed since November 2014.

    Siarhei Ivanou was executed on the night of 18 April. In March 2015 he was sentenced to death having been convicted of the murder of a 19-year old woman in 2013. The UN Human Rights Committee had requested a stay of execution while it considered his case.  Such requests are binding on state parties to the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Belarus acceded to in 1992. Despite that, and in contravention of Belarus’ human rights obligations, Siarhei Ivanou was executed.

    Siarhei Ivanou’s family only learned of his execution in May, after the sentence had been implemented. They were not given any warning or granted a final meeting with him. In keeping with Belarusian law, his body will not be returned to them for burial, nor will his place of burial be disclosed. His personal belongings have not yet been returned to them. They are now required to collect his death certificate from the Belarusian authorities.

    Amnesty International reiterates its calls for the Belarusian authorities to immediately stay all executions and establish a moratorium with a view to abolishing the death penalty. In 2012, the Human Rights Committee concluded that the secrecy surrounding the death penalty in Belarus amounts to inhuman treatment of the families and is a violation of Article 7 of the ICCPR. Pending abolition, the Belarusian authorities must end the secrecy surrounding the death penalty and amend Article 175 of the Belarusian Criminal Executive Code which prohibits relatives from receiving the body for burial and allows the government to withhold information about the location of the burial site.

    At least three people remain on death row in Belarus. They are Ivan Kulesh, Henadz Yakavitski and Siarhei Khmialeuski. Amnesty International calls on the Belarusian authorities to halt any planned executions and immediately commute the death sentences handed down to Ivan Kulesh, Henadz Yakavitski and Siarhei Khmialeuski and all others sentenced to death in Belarus.

    Belarus is the last country in Europe and the Former Soviet Union to still carry out executions. The majority of the world’s countries have now abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 140 countries are abolitionist in law or practice. In 2015 alone four new countries − Congo (Republic of), Fiji, Madagascar and Suriname − repealed the death penalty from their legislation.

    Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances, regardless of the nature of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. 

    For further information contact Aden Seaton/Sarah French 613-744-7667 ext 263