Belarus is the last country in the former Soviet Union region which still conducts executions. Amnesty International published its yearly report on the death penalty which reveals the current situation throughout the world. According to the report, during 2008, at least four people were sentenced to death in Belarus and penalties were executed immediately. Numbers are based on estimation since Belarus government keeps all information on the death penalty secret.
The report states that even the methods of conduction cause distress. Prisoners are shot from the back of their heads, funerals are not delivered to their families and even the burial places are kept secret. Moreover, torture is accepted as a legal mean to extract confessions.
In the country, one way of suppressing political activity is to make a threat of death penalty. For example, following the 2006 presidential elections, KGB, the state security services threatened the demonstrators with death penalty by saying that "the actions of people who come to the square to demonstrate will be assessed as terrorism, which is punished according to various articles with eight years' imprisonment to the death penalty."
Among the Central Asian countries, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan abolished the death penalty in September 2008. The Amnesty International's report came just after the summit of European Union leaders convened on 19-20 March 2009. The EU leaders agreed a declaration launching Eastern Partnership. Belarus is one of the partner countries within the project; however leaders haven't decided whether they would invite Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to the summit in May.
By Ceren Mutus (JTW)