UN expert urges Belarus to stop executions after recent court rulings

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Miklos Haraszti (Photo: OSCE/Susanna Loof)

The government of Belarus has been urged to start in immediate moratorium on executions before the laws imposing the death penalty can be repealed and the court system reformed.

The appeal has come from the United Nations independent expert on human rights in Belarus, following the rulings of the country's courts that continue to hand down death sentences.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, notes that Belarus is the only European country that still retains the death penalty for certain crimes during times of peace and war.

Mr. Haraszti says he regrets the decision of the country's Supreme Court on 18 September to uphold the death sentence handed down in July to Pavel Selyun accused of murder and theft of documents.

The UN independent expert points out that in the course of 2013, two other death sentences were imposed on two people accused of murder.

Mr. Haraszti is urging the Belarusian authorities to use these new sentences as the starting cases of a practical moratorium on actual executions.

He says at the same time the focus could be on the work of a parliamentary committee which is studying the issue and putting together a legal moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its abolition.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’11″

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