Belarus remains the only country in Europe and the former Soviet Union to carry out executions.
Campaigning by the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty has contributed to the decision in 17 new countries to abolish the death penalty for all crimes since the first World Day was held in 2003, bringing the total to 140 states which have abolished in law or practice – more than 70 per cent of the world’s countries.
In 1993 the Belarusian parliament received the PACE’s special guest status which was frozen in 1996 after Belarusian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka changed the country’s law, giving himself additional powers. The PACE then cancelled the status over alleged election fraud in Belarus’s 1997 presidential elections.
In June 2009 PACE passed a resolution banning Belarus’s participation as a “special guest” at PACE meetings until the death penalty was abolished. But in vain: Belarus passed death sentences on two of its citizens for separate crimes in 2009. As a result, the Parliamentary Assembly officially recommended its members not to visit the country. After the execution of Dzmitry Kanavalau and Uladzislau Kavaliou sentenced to capital punishment for alleged organisation of the terroristic act in Minsk metro the PACE Secretary General stated: “Death penalty in Belarus prevents the country from having any status in the frames of the Coucil of Europe.”
All details about the death penalty in Belarus are secret and the only official information about how the death penalty is carried out is to be found in Articles 174 – 176 of the Criminal Executive Code. According to Article 175-2: “The death penalty is carried out in private by means of shooting”. The body is not handed over to the relatives for burial and the place of burial is kept secret.
The main argument frequently cited by Belarusian officials is that the death penalty was confirmed by a referendum in 1996, when 80.44 per cent of the Belarusian population voted against abolishing the death penalty.