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On 19 May the Homyel Regional Court passed a death sentence against Siarhei Vostrykau. This is the third new death sentence passed by a Belarusian court in 2016. It also follows the execution of Syarhey Iwanow in April as well as confirmation by the Belarusian Supreme Court of three further death sentences originally handed down in previous years.
The upsurge of new and confirmed death sentences in Belarus over the last months runs counter to Belarus' stated willingness to engage with the international community, including the European Union, on the matter and to consider the introduction of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty. The latter is also a commitment made by Belarus in response to recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Council in the Universal Periodic Review.
Experience worldwide has demonstrated that capital punishment fails to act as a deterrent to crime,which is why many countries have stopped applying it. Furthermore, the execution of a person, regardless of the conviction, is a cruel and unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity.
We expect Belarus, the only country in Europe still applying capital punishment, to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its abolition.