World Day against the Death Penalty is celebrated worldwide today

  • Today, on October 10, the World Day against the Death Penalty, we would like to tell you about the most important and unalienable right of all human beings - the right to life

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 says that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

What does it mean in practical terms?

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is a signing party, underlines that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.  The covenant specifies that in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force and this penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court (Article 6). 

☑ The right to life is interpreted in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus including from the point of view of protection by the state of an individual from any unlawful assaults. The death penalty is only possible in Belarus as an exceptional measure of punishment for the exceptionally aggravated criminal offence and only pursuant to the court verdict (Article 24).

☑ Belarus remains the only country in Europe, where the death penalty is applied. From 2015 to 2019, 14 death sentences were imposed, which is much less than in late 90s.  Nevertheless in 2018, the United Nations Human Rights Committee pointed out to Belarus that the death penalty is incompatible with the full respect for the right to life and that abolition of the death penalty is desirable and a necessary a prerequisite to human dignity and progressive development of human rights.

Approaches to abolition of death penalty in the world

☑ XXI century determined the global trend towards abolition of the death penalty and the growing recognition that death sentencing is inconsistent with the states’ obligations in the field of human rights including the right not to be tortured or treated in an inhuman or degrading way.  In 2018, the Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly urged the states to establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing this punishment.

☑ Hence about 170 member states out of 193 with various legal frameworks, cultural and religious traditions have either abolished the death penalty or do not apply it as of today.

☑ It should be noted that the statistics on the countries, where the death penalty has been abolished by law, consistently confirms the absence of any correlation between executions and crime level. The research carried out by UN in 1996 established the lack of proof that “executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment.”

📄 Here you can learn more about the Concluding observations by the UN Human Rights Committee on the fifth periodic report of Belarus (2018) including with regard to the death penalty.

Media Contacts
Author
Olga Arefeva
UN
Programme Assistant
UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Belarus
UN entities involved in this initiative
IOM
International Organization for Migration
RCO
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UNAIDS
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UNHCR
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
WHO
World Health Organization