US-based non-profit organization 'Belarusians in Exile' (BiE), comprised of Belarusians who were forced out of their country because of systematic violations of human rights, expressed support for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklos Haraszti, who has urged the Government of Belarus to start an immediate moratorium on death executions until the relevant legislation and court system can be reformed and capital punishment can be removed from the country's Criminal Code. Belarus is the only European country that still retains the death penalty for certain crimes during times of peace and war.
In his statement this week, Mr. Haraszti expressed his regret regarding the decision of Belarusian Supreme Court, which on 18 September ruled to uphold the death sentence handed to Pavel Selyun: “I am deeply disappointed regarding the rulings of Belarusian courts which continue to hand down death sentences to the country's citizens.” Mr. Selyun was accused of double murder and theft of documents and, on 12 July 2013, was sentenced to death by the Hrodna Oblast Court in Belarus.
'Belarusians in Exile' and other human rights groups have repeatedly called on the EU and the US to expand targeted sanctions against Belarus as an affective way to achieve improvements in human rights situation in the country. “Death sentences, political prisoners, and other human rights violations are the norm in Belarus. We hope that strong financial and political pressure from the EU and the US will make President Alexander Lukashenko allow some of the democracy back in the country,” says Dima Shehigelsly, director of BIE: “The UN statement is absolutely true and we support it and we hope that the EU and the US will do the same, as these are the countries where Lukashenko gets most of his financing from,” adds Shehigelsky.
In October, the EU will review its restrictive measures in respect of Belarus and we hope that it will take the UN position into account and extend sanctions against the main currency-earners for the regime.