EU urged: ‘Curb Europe’s last executioner’
(Brussels, 10 October 2011) As Amnesty International marks the World Day Against the Death Penalty, it has urged the European Union to maintain pressure on Belarus to demand an end to executions in the only remaining country in Europe or the former Soviet Union which still executes people.
“Belarus is Europe’s last executioner”, said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office. “On this World Day Against the Death Penalty, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council will discuss human rights in Belarus. Last week an EU statement on that country failed to demand the penalty’s abolition. Today we need foreign ministers to discuss every possible means of pressing Belarus to halt executions.”
As many as 400 people may have been executed in Belarus since 1991. The true number is unknown owing to the secrecy surrounding executions. Prisoners are usually told they will be executed just moments before the sentence is carried out.
On 23 September, the family of death row prisoner Andrei Burdyka was told by Grodno regional court to collect their son's death certificate. Burdyka and another man were sentenced to death on 14 May 2010 for murdering three people. The men are rumoured to have been executed in mid-July this year. The other man’s family still awaits official information.
Amnesty International reported thousands of executions in 23 countries in 2010. At the end of 2010, at least 17,800 people worldwide were under sentence of death, waiting for governments to kill them. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. The inhumanity of its application is evident in cases from around the world.
For more information, please see:-
The global state of the death penalty: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT51/002/2011/en
Video interview with a former Belarusian executioner,
Video interview with Svetlana Zhuk, mother of an executed prisoner in Belarus, http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/save-two-men-execution-belarus
For interviews or further comment, please contact:-
Media & Communications Officer
European Institutions Office, Amnesty International
Tel: +32 (0)2 548 2773