UN ‘strongly condemns’ recent executions in Belarus

UN ‘strongly condemns’ recent executions in Belarus

[JURIST] A UN Special Rapporteur on Monday “strongly condemn[ed]” [press release] the executions of three men in Belarus last week. Citing the executions as a confirmation of the “the persistent disregard for human rights in the country,” the expert asserted that the country should have stayed at least two of the executions until their cases, which were pending before the UN Human Rights Committee, could be decided. The Human Rights Committee has oversight over the compliance of Belarus with its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [text]. Therefore, the expert argued that Belarus was “obliged” to wait for judgment. The expert concluded his remarks urging the nation to establish a moratorium on the death penalty but asked that until then, the nation commute the sentences of those on death row to life sentences.

Belarus has faced continued scrutiny over human rights abuses. In May, UN human rights experts expressed grave concern [JURIST report] over Belarus’ death penalty practices after reports surfaced that a man was executed while his case was before the UN Human Rights Committee [official website]. In August of 2015 EU officials praised [JURIST report] Belarus’ president for his release of political prisoners. In June UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus Miklos Haraszti warned [JURIST report] that Belarus continues to sentence and imprison political opponents of the government. In March 2014 he called for the country to end its use of the death penalty, reiterating earlier statements [JURIST report] and citing politically motivated courts and the lack of fair trials. In 2011 former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay suggested a need for UN intervention [JURIST report] in Belarus and demanded the nation free non-violent political prisoners. Although Belarus is an active member of the UN and has ratified many of its human rights policies, Pillay noted a sharp deterioration in human rights since the 2010 disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994.