Two young brothers on death row
The death sentence of these two young brothers has shocked many people in Belarus and the international community. In recent years, Belarus has repeatedly stated its commitment to ending executions in its own time, expressed willingness to engage in the subject and continues to court the international community in this regard. Despite this, it persists in sentencing and executing people (in 2019, three death sentences were passed and at least three men were executed and there are currently five men on death row).
In this case, the two brothers killed their neighbour after she had complained to social services and accused their sister of not properly looking after her own children. That complaint put the children at risk of going into care. After finding out about the complaint the two brothers got drunk and took revenge on their neighbour by killing her. They were only 18 and 20 at the time. Amnesty International is not condoning what they did and is advocating for their sentence to be changed to a prison term. The authorities must take into account the conditions surrounding their case and adopt a rehabilitative approach rather than vengeful, punitive one.
Death sentences in Belarus are implemented in strict secrecy and without giving adequate notice to the condemned prisoners themselves, their families or legal representatives. The authorities refuse to return the bodies of those executed to their relatives or even tell them where they are buried. Executions are carried out despite requests from the UN Human Rights Committee to the government. The committee requests to review each case prior to execution. In November 2012, the Human Rights Committee found that the application of the death penalty in Belarus violates the human rights of those condemned and their families.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, as a violation of the right to life, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Amnesty International supports calls, included in six resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly since 2007, for the establishment of a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. As of today, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.