nooseVladislav Kovalyov and Dmitry Konovalov, both 26, were recently sentenced to death and executed in Belarus. They were accused (in what critics label a “rigged trial”) of a bombing in the Minsk metro in April last year in which 15 people died and 300 were injured. Belarus, which was defined by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice as the “last dictatorship in Europe”, is the only European country that continues to use the death penalty. The European Union and human rights groups have strongly condemned the execution. Furthermore, rights activists claim that around 400 people have been executed in Belarus since the 1991 Soviet collapse. How should Europe respond to this? Is it the sovereign right of states to execute their citizens, or should the EU more strongly support anti-death penalty campaigns?


18 comments Post a commentComment


  1. Jovan Ivosevic

    Isn’t it a better question to ask what CAN the EU do about supporting anti-death penalty positions outside its borders? Because when it comes to Belarus or plenty of other places in the world, the answer is “not much”

  2. Karel Van Isacker

    About time the EU checks its foreign policies and how it has been supporting “death penalties” towards innocent civilians, such as in Libya, where loads of innocent people were bombed to pieces by the NATO, backed by EU members (Belgium, France, UK, Greece, etc.), and supporting rebels that show still no respect for human rights. Or maybe this is not relevant since it is just a few hundred kilometers outside Europe?

  3. Joe DaSilva

    When did the EU ever respond to anything? Are you kidding us? You people couldn’t respond to a backyard brawl – Cowards!

  4. Joe DaSilva

    Dear Mr. Van Isacker – WIth all due respect (lol) you’re an idiot. You are oviously suggesting that Kadafi should have not been disturbed and continue to be a tryrant using thuggery to subdue his opponents, killing everyone who didn’t agree with his brutar regime of intimidation and tyranny. The fact that the rebels still do not respect huma rights, does not justify leaving Kadafi in power. You’re a MORON, sir.

  5. Debating Europe

    Joe DaSilva We appreciate your input but you will need to watch your language. We’re all adults, and we encourage a lively debate – but please keep it clean. We want to hear your arguments for / against the death penalty. However, that means we need you to respect one another and put forward your arguments without ad hominem attacks. This goes for everyone.

  6. Karel Van Isacker

    @ Joe: seems you did not quite understand what I meant, and also subdue to straightforward rude language. Anyway, it shows most of all your (lack of) respect for other people and opinions. Not really worth further spending my time on.

  7. Jovan Ivosevic

    Karel he probably watches Fox News and doesn’t realize NATO just handed Libya over to a group whose military arm was known as the Maghreb affiliate of Al Queda. Among plenty of other things. Nuance is not their strong suit. Besides, this is supposed to be about the death penalty and not Libya

  8. Jaroslav Kuna

    Full-scale economic and diplomatic blockade. Closing the borders, freezing all co-operations. Nothing less will bring Sasha down.

  9. Srdjan Romcevic

    I believe that EU should support anti-death penalty campaigns worldwide more strongly, as well as government of law and other democratic values.
    However, fighting death penalty shouldn’t be focused solely on Belarus and Third World countries as it currently is, but to other, more powerful, countries such as US and China as well. Only then will EU have a moral ground to stand on.

  10. Jan Dik

    i absolutely concur with your opinion.What is more,Belarus is not a member state of the EU.As a consquence,It has nothing to do with the EU and vice versa!

  11. Nikolai Holmov

    I’m not sure that the EU or its Member States can do anymore than it already does with regards to State imposed death penalties.

    It can embargo the export of particular drugs used in executions in the US for example and take the moral stand that nothing manufactured within the EU is used in any State imposed execution but that is really about it.

    Obviously lobbying by Member States (who are seemingly listened to far more than the EEAS or EU and understandably so) continues within the closed corridors of diplomacy on an on-going basis however things are not that clear cut once we move outside the official execution chambers of any State that still carries out this punishment.

    There is no noise from the EU when US drones act as arbitrary judge, jury and executioner of militants (assuming they get the right targets which is not always the case) and yet this is State sanctioned execution and normally across international borders.

    As yet there is no noise from the EU over drones as very few other nations have drones similar to those of the US. However, when more nations do have such capabilities and they can fly drones over the US and carry out State sanctioned executions on US soil I suppose then there will be a call to generate international rules relating to drones.

    Personally I think that conversation needs to be had sooner rather than later but I doubt anyone wants to have it with the US just yet.

    Then there is the issue of component parts and even bullets and small arms that can be supplied when the situation in country X is stable but then becomes unstable and the small arms and bullets sold are then used for summary executions by either the State or the “new State” in the event of a successful revolution/coup as some have alluded to above.

    However, that is a broad discussion about decisions made at a particular times which turn out to be suspect if things go wrong in a future unknown.

    I suspect the spirit of this debate is centered around court imposed and State executed death penalties as a result of judicial due process (no matter how shabby that due process may be.)

    Therefore, as I say above, aside from monitoring what component parts are EU manufactured in the method of execution around the world and embargoing or restricting such trade whilst the continuing lobbying from Sovereign States and NGOs continues, I generally don’t see much more that can be done.

    I wouldn’t subscribe to some statements above regarding completely isolating a nation as that doesn’t really solve the problem. I have always found it easier to influence people and organisations from within rather than from outside where it is far easier for them to fail to listen or dismiss the message.

    It is not necessarily a quick or simple policy/tactic to continually send the same message in a battle of wills to erode the others position. Sometimes it simply fails and proves no more effective than complete disengagement as has been suggested above. The question with all policy whether continued engagement or isolation is how long do you give it before it is deemed a success or failure?

    It must also be recongised that there will simply be occasions where no matter what tactic or policy is taken, there will be those who will not move from their position regardless of the carrots or sticks used to change their positions.

    North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Belarus, Syria are all recent (past 50 years or so) or current examples of those States which simply have either red lines they will not negotiate over or regimes that really don’t care what the rest of the world thinks, says or does.

    Quite simply some State positions will not change until the leadership changes. Belarus is one such State and there is nothing the EU can do to change Belorussian policy. That, however, does not mean it should stop trying to do so.

  12. Christos Mouzeviris

    I agree with Srdjan and Nikolai… If the EU MUST do something then it better include USA and China… We can not really interfere with the internal affairs of nations who chose not to have a lot to do with us… If they reach out to us for closer ties, then we can play our cards and put pressure.. Until then unfortunately there are not many things we can do, unless perhaps support the anti-execution groups in Belarus. The change in a society must come from within, with support or nurturing from outside perhaps, nevertheless it is the Belarusian people who must stand up and say no to this; then we will support them…

  13. Danail Stoichkov

    I think that the EU can’t do much about the death penalties outside it’s borders. There are some countries which just have that primitive stereotypes and support death penalties.
    Firstly, we live in the 21st century where things can be changed diplomatically, without any harms, it’s absolutely unacceptable to have death penalties anywhere. Secondly, it’s pretty unpleasantly that there is such a “proffesion” as a legal executor, or you can also put it “legal killer”. We live in the 21st century, in democracy, it’s really strange that some countries still support death penalty. I really hope that the EU will take action in rejection of this law outside it’s borders.

  14. catherine benning

    First of all Europe should refuse to extradite EU citizens to any country outside its borders who keep the death penalty. And this includes the USA and all its offshoots. Ditto those countries who do not comply with the Human Rights directive. Unless the criminality took place in those countries with the perpetrator there at the time.

    Sending Europeans to any country that still maintains the death penalty is absurd. Unless they have committed the crime within those countries boundaries whilst there. Then they take their lives in their own hands.

    You cannot claim you are opposed to capital punishment and then send people to be tried in a place you consider barbarous.

    And whilst you are at it, the EU should urgently set up internet services that do not pass through US jurisdiction or States. This is also another crazy situation you have got us all into. If a person uses the internet in his own bedroom and is not committing any crime in his own country, finds he is then being extradited to the US, as a result of using their internet supplier, without any knowledge of this use, as some British men have, this cannot be tolerated. Who gave the US the right to indict people who have not left theire homeland and have not committed any crime in that homeland because they have mad laws with absurd penalties. Why would the EU allow this?

    No country outside European borders has any right to demand EU citizens to stand trial in a country that is barbarous. It makes an idiot of EU policy to accept this. Again I qualify this by adding, unless the EU citizen went to that country in the physical sense, and carried out his/her crime whilst there and abosolute proof of that can be shown.

  15. Ozcan

    don’t we first have to join the Russian federation before we have some degree of influence in Belarus?

  16. Ingo

    What about the Lisbon treaty?

    The death penality has been implemented.
    Stop your critics, when you have legalised death penality in the EU!

  17. Tim Price

    The EU should not interfere with the justice system of any country, whether in Europe or elsewhere in the world.
    Here in the UK when Capital Punishment for murder was effectively abolised in 1965, the murder rate was 1 murder per 744,513 people, based on a population of 54,349,500 and around 73 recorded murders. In 2009 the population of the UK was around 61.4million, with 651 recorded murders. That gives a rate of 1 murder per 94,316.4 people. Sources The Guardian and CapitalpunishmentUK.org.
    It certainly appears that, contrary to the abolitionists favorite argument, Capital Punishment WAS a deterrent, certainly in the UK. Also, we gave up Capital Punishment on the basis that it’s replacement would be a Life sentence. Unfortunately, a life sentence is anything but, with murderers being deemed ekigible for parole after 15 years in some cases. How long until that becomes 10 years, followed by 5 years. Give the abolitionists what they want, and they will always want more.
    Another favorite argument is that killing humans is uncivilised, although those who shout most loudly against taking the life of a killer who has been tried and who has had numerous appeals, are also the biggest supporters of a practice in which thousands of innocent foetus’s are killed every year, without any appeal or due process of law.
    It is only just that someone who, with premeditation, unlawfully kills another, forfeits their own life. Nothing will bring the victim back, but highest price possible should be paid.

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