Human Rights Commissioner Löning calls on Belarus not to carry out death sentences

15.03.2012 - Press release

According to numerous reports, on 14 March President Lukashenko decided not to grant clemency to Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov, who have been sentenced to death. Konovalov and Kovalyov are held responsible for the attack on the Minsk subway of 11 April 2011.

Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (15 March):

“I was shocked to learn that clemency has been denied Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov, who have been sentenced to death.
I strongly urge President Lukashenko to halt their death sentences being carried out.
Capital punishment cannot be justified either for ethical reasons or on policy grounds. It is not a suitable instrument for combating crime. Miscarriages of justice can never be completely ruled out. The Government of Belarus must put a moratorium on capital punishment in place, with the goal of eliminating it completely.”

Konovalov and Kovalyov were sentenced to death on 30 November 2011. There are serious doubts about the fairness of their trial. It is said that their confessions were obtained using torture. Kovalyov has retracted his confession and denies that he is guilty.

The Human Rights Commissioner was denied entry into Belarus in February 2012. Among other things he wanted to deliver a letter from Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle to President Lukashenko, expressing the German Government’s advocacy of clemency for Konovalov and Kovalyov.

Belarus is the only European country that still hands down and carries out death sentences.

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