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UN monitor urges Belarus to halt executions

AFP | Last Updated: Friday, April 25, 2014 - 22:27

Geneva: Belarus should impose a moratorium on executions and refrain from handing down death sentences, a UN human rights monitor said Friday, faulting the ex-Soviet republic`s justice system.

In a statement, Miklos Haraszti said the recent execution of double murderer Pavel Selyun, thought to be the first this year, was a stark reminder of the flaws.

"No reports of executions for a considerable time, despite the imposition of several new death sentences, had filled the international community with the hope that Belarus had started a practical moratorium, which would then lead to a legal moratorium, and finally to the abolition of capital punishment," he said.

The last country in Europe to still apply the death penalty, authoritarian Belarus carries out executions in secret.

Selyun`s lawyer and family only found out on April 18 that he had apparently been put to death several days earlier.

Haraszti protested that Selyun was executed despite the fact that he had an appeal pending before the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

He also pointed to a ruling last week in which the supreme court of Belarus upheld the death sentence against another murderer, Eduard Lykau.

"Information on death sentences remains limited for relatives and the general public and there is a lack of transparency about persons held on death row, and an inadequate procedure for appeals," said Haraszti, who is tasked with monitoring the overall human rights situation in Belarus.

Haraszti, who has struggled to win cooperation from Belarus for his watchdog activities, complained that Minsk declines to issue annual statistics for use of the death penalty, nor does it reveal the name of most of those put to death.

"Those facing the death penalty, and their relatives, are not informed of the scheduled date of execution. Following the execution, the relatives are not informed of where the body is buried," he added.

First Published: Friday, April 25, 2014 - 22:27

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