IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Statement of the Belarusian NP of EaP CSF regarding death penalty
11 April 2012
We, the participants of activity of the National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, express our deep concern at the fact that the death penalty is still applied in Belarusian legal and judicial practice. Particular suspicion and broad public discussion has caused the death penalty for the case of a terrorist act that took place at the metro station "Kastrychnitskaya".
Immediately after the explosion on April 11, 2011, the members of the National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum strongly condemned this brutal act; noted that it was directed against all citizens of the Republic of Belarus, regardless of their political and public opinion, national or religious affiliation. Calls of the Belarusian public upon the authorities as not to make hasty steps, to conduct search-and-effect work within the law, to renounce the vengeance that, as a matter of fact, the death penalty is, and to substitute it with life imprisonment upon detection of perpetrators and providing evidence of their guilt, were ignored.
Republic of Belarus is the only European country that did not abandon the death penalty through its complete abolition or a moratorium, which, among other things, deprives our country possibility to become a member of the Council of Europe. In Belarus, from 1991 to March 16, 2012 were carried about 400 sentences of capital punishment. The Belarusian authorities do not provide the public with accurate statistics on this issue.
The last death sentence for the case of an explosion at the metro station on April 11, 2011 to Uladzislau Kavaleu and Dzmitry Kanavalau was completed in March 2012. The trial, which took place from September 15 to November 30, 2011 failed to convince the Belarusian society, including some victims, of the suspects’ guilty. The reason for this was the following:
- in spite of the exceptional status of the case for Belarus, the trial was taking place in unusual haste;
- lawyers’ comments about the contradictions in the suspects’ actions and the results of the investigation were ignored;
- the convicts had no right to appeal, for a repeated, more detailed revision of the case;
- the motives of the crime of the suspects remained unrevealed.
The trial of Uladzislau Kavaleu and Dzmitry Kanavalau has discredited the Belarusian judicial system both domestically and abroad, has triggered a wave of justified criticism by the Belarusian and international civil society. Human rights organizations had collected over 165,000 signatures for a moratorium on the death penalty in Belarus. In all big cities of Belarus civil actions had taken place, in which activists drawn attention to the controversial trial and hasty death sentence, called upon the Belarusian authorities to stop the very practice of the death penalty in the country! These events confirm the readiness and willingness of big part of the Belarusian society to abandon the use of death penalty in domestic jurisprudence.
We, representatives of the Belarusian civil society, the participants of activity of the National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum:
Consider hasty the death penalty Uladzislau Kavaleu and Dzmitry Kanavalau;
Condemn the very practice of executions in Belarus;
We urge the authorities of Belarus to establish a moratorium on the death penalty!