Belarus prison authorities allegedly bar death convict from writing to UN Human Rights Committee

As there have been no letters from death convict Henadz Yakavitski since May 11, his family fears that the prisoner could have been executed, human rights centre ‘Viasna’ reports.

 In January 2016, Yakavitski, a resident of Vileyka, was sentenced to capital punishment for murder committed with extreme brutality.

On May 30, the convict was visited by his daughter who believes that the letters were blocked because they contained a power of attorney and she could send a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee. Thus, prison authorities are preventing Henadz Yakavitski from exercising his constitutional rights, human rights activists say.

According to Article 61 of the Constitution, everyone has the right, in accordance with international legal acts ratified by the Republic of Belarus, to appeal to international organizations to protect their rights and freedoms after all available domestic remedies have been exhausted.

This is not the first time that government agencies create obstacles to receiving a power of attorney to represent the interests of death convicts in the Committee. Earlier, Syarhei Ivanou’s power of attorney was ‘lost’ in jail No. 1,” said Andrey Paluda, a coordinator of the campaign Human Rights Defenders against the Death Penalty in Belarus.

Syarhei Ivanou was executed in 2016. His case is ‘of particular concern’ of the EU in light of the fact that his complaint was under consideration by the Human Rights Committee at the United Nations.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe that still applies capital punishment,The West has repeatedly called on the Belarusian authorities to join a global moratorium as a first step towards the abolition of death penalty. Over 400 persons have been sentenced to death since 1991; president Alyaksandr Lukashenka granted a pardon to only one convict.

Read also: Third time in 2016: Belarusian court sentences serial murderer to death, following

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