The United Nations Human Rights Committee today accused Belarus of violating its international agreements by executing two persons while their cases were still under review by the committee.
The committee – an independent body supervising compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – expressed “dismay” that the executions were the second such breach by Belarus in two years.
According to a press statement issued by the committee, Oleg Grishkovtsov and Andrei Burdyko had alleged that they were subjected to torture at the pre-trial investigation stage and did not receive a fair trial. Media reports indicated the two were found guilty of premeditated murder, armed assault, arson, kidnapping of a minor, theft and robbery.
The committee had asked authorities in Belarus not to carry out the executions while their cases were under consideration. The exact date of the executions remains unknown but it is presumed that they took place between 13 and 19 July.
The committee sent a letter to Belarus’ Permanent Mission in Geneva, expressing concern over the apparent executions “in violation of the committee’s request for interim measures of protection.”
“Our requests for interim measures of protection are aimed at averting irreparable harm to alleged victims of human rights violations. The committee deplores the fact that, by proceeding to execute these two individuals, Belarus has committed a grave breach of its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” said Zonke Zanele Majodina, the committee’s chairperson.
The letter said that under the covenant: “It is imperative that a death sentence be imposed only in full respect of the right to a fair trial. The imposition of a death sentence after a trial that did not meet the requirements for a fair trial amounts to a violation of articles 14 and 6 of the covenant,” Ms. Zanele Majodina said.
In March last year Andrei Zhuk and Vasily Yuzepchuk were executed despite the committee’s request for interim measures of protection, it said.