Urgent Action: Two Young Brothers on Death Row (Belarus: UA 53.20)

Brothers, Stanislau and Illia Kostseu aged 19 and 21, were sentenced to death on 10 January for the murder of their next-door neighbor. When the verdict was read out in the Mohilev regional court, eastern Belarus, the public gallery applauded the decision. The Supreme Court hearing on their case will happen soon and if the sentence is upheld, they will be at imminent risk of execution. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and their death sentence should be commuted.



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Gennady Bronislavovich Davydko
Chair of the Human Rights Commission and the Parliamentary Group on Death Penalty Abolition
Chamber of Representatives of the National Assembly
Sovetskaya street, 11
Minsk 220010, Republic of Belarus
Fax: +375 17 222 3705
E-mail: [email protected] [email protected] [email protected]
Ambassador Dmitry Basik
Embassy of Belarus
1619 New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington DC 20009
Phone: 202 986 9420 I Fax: 202 986 1805
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Mr. Davydko,

On 10 January the Mohilev regional court sentenced brothers Stanislau and Illia Kostseu to death for the April 2019 murder of their former teacher and next-door neighbor. Allegedly, she had complained to authorities that their sister, Hanna Kostseu, was failing to properly look after her four children which would have put the children at risk of going into care. Stanislau and Illia Kostseu were only 18 and 20 at the time of their arrest.

While not seeking to excuse the crime committed or downplay the suffering caused, no state should resort to the death penalty, whatever the crime. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment – including for the family of those sentenced – and has no place in any criminal justice system today. The death penalty in Belarus is not only a punishment for the convicted but also for their families, who receive no notification about the time or place of execution. ‘To receive a letter from them one day and then soon after to receive a document stating that the execution took place is the cruelest thing,’ Hanna Kostseu has said publicly. After the murder, the Kostseu family have faced regular threats and harassment, and Hanna Kotseu’s children were bullied at school; the family had to leave their hometown of Cherykaw.

Despite mounting domestic and international pressure, Belarus remains the only country in Europe and Central Asia which continues to apply the death penalty. In addition to Stanislau and Illia Kostseu, three other prisoners are believed to be on death row in Belarus. I urge you to take whatever steps are possible to ensure that the death sentences of Stanislau and Illia Kostseu, as well as those of others sentenced to death in Belarus, are immediately commuted, and that a moratorium on death sentences is introduced, as a first step to full abolition.

Yours sincerely,