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Meeting with Liubov Kovaleva

Last week the meeting was hosted with Liubov Kovalyova, mother of Vladislav Kovalyov, a man sentenced to death for his alleged complicity in carrying out a bomb attack at a Minsk metro station on 11 April 2011. The sister of the executed Belarusian also took part in the meeting.

Valdislav Kovalyov’s mother and sister still don’t know when the execution was carried out and where their son and brother was buried. Under the Belarusian law such information is not to be revealed. The mother and the sister call on Belarusian authorities to allow them to bury Mr Kovalyov’s body.

Vladislav Kovalyov’s mother believes that the Belarusian society is changing. She says: “Belarusians finally understood the monstrosity of the death penalty”. According to the statistics of the Belarusian Ministry of Justice between 1990 and 2011, 326 persons were executed in Belarus.

In May 2012 Lyubov Kovalyova and her daughter Tatiana Koziar sent to the UN Human Rights Committee an amended version of the complaint previously filed by Vladislav Kovalyov. The complainants asked the Committee to be classified as victims of violations of human rights guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Lyubov Kovalyova and her daughter argue that Belarusian authorities violated the prohibition of torture and inhuman and degrading treatment by concealing information on the date and time of Mr Kovalyov’s death.

Journalists participating in the meeting asked the women who supported them in their struggle to preserve the memory of the deceased and whether they were not afraid of repercussions from authorities. Lyubov Kovalyova mentioned the support of non-governmental organisations and Belarusian lawyers.

“We won’t rest until everyone understands that the death penalty is evil. It must be abolished, not only legally, but also mentally”, said Halina Bortnowska, Chair of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights Council and animator of the ‘Horizon – Against the Death Penalty’ Group.

So far, all the appeals and requests for moratorium on the capital punishment have been unsuccessful. “This doesn’t mean that we should cease using the available influence channels or refrain from trying to persuade President Lukashenko to abolish the death penalty in Belarus”, said Danuta Przywara, President of the HFHR. “If we do nothing, certainly nothing will change. If we continue to appeal, there is always a chance that something will change in the end”, added Ms Przywara.

The meeting was held in partnership with journalists of Superwizjer, a programme by TVN, a national TV broadcaster.

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