Strasbourg, 22 January 2014 - In reaction to the recent death penalty sentences in Belarus, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe published the following statement:
"The Committee of Ministers regrets the pronouncement of a death penalty sentence on Mr. Eduard Lykov in November 2013, which has brought to four the number of death sentences handed down in Belarus during 2013.
The Committee of Ministers also regrets that the Homyel Regional Court has confirmed the death penalty sentence on Mr. Aleysander Grunow following the Supreme Court decision to return the case to the regional court for reconsideration.
Even if acknowledging that there is no information concerning executions in 2013, the Committee of Ministers notes with concern that the continuous pronouncement of new death penalty sentences contradicts the values of the Council of Europe.
The Committee of Ministers appeals to the President of Belarus to commute the sentences of Mr. Eduard Lykov and Mr. Aleysander Grunow and, as a more general measure, strongly urges Belarus to establish a formal moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty".