(no subject)

Francisco Lopez (d005734c@dcfreenet.seflin.lib.fl.us)
Tue, 3 Dec 1996 14:07:00 -0500 (EST)


This News Service is posted by theInternational Secretariat
of Amnesty International, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 8DJ
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AMNESTY-L:
UKRAINE: SECRET MASS EXECUTIONS IN UKRAINE CALLED ~BARBARIC~

Following the shocking information revealed last Friday by
the Council of Europe that Ukraine has secretly executed more
than one hundred prisoners this year, Amnesty International
is urgently calling on the Ukrainian authorities to
immediately stop any further executions.

The executions were described by a special
representative of the 40-nation Council of Europe as barbaric
and in defiance of the commitment Ukraine made to institute
an immediate moratorium on executions on joining the Council
of Europe in November 1995.

~This is a shameful number of executions -- only China
is known to have executed more prisoners this year,~ Amnesty
International said today.

The executions were disclosed at a news conference on
Friday 29 November in Kiev, Ukraine, at the end of an
international seminar on the death penalty organized by the
Council of Europe. In a dramatic statement, Zsolt Nemeth,
Council of Europe rapporteur on the honouring of obligations
and commitments by Ukraine, told journalists he had just
received the ~shocking~ information. He said that the
executions could only be characterized as ~barbarism~ and
called into question the credibility of Ukraine.

~Ukraine must now institute an immediate moratorium on
executions and provide a timetable for abolishing the death
penalty,~ Zsolt Nemeth said.~We cannot be satisfied with
promises. We need to see concrete plans.~

Zsolt Nemeth called on the Ukrainian authorities to
disclose the names of those executed
-- under a 1993 law, information on the death penalty is a
state secret. He said that executed prisoners were buried in
unmarked graves and their families were not notified of the
executions.

After this disclosure Ukrainian Minister of Justice
Serhiy Holovaty confirmed that 89 prisoners were executed in
the first six months of 1996. He told the news conference he
believed Ukraine must honour its commitment to stop
executions.

Eric Prokosch, an Amnesty International representative,
told the news conference that Ukraine must take five steps to
implement its commitment to the Council of Europe.

First, there must be a political decision not to sign
any more execution orders. Second, this decision must be
formalized by the central government issuing an order to all
prison governors that no further executions are to be carried
out. These two steps should be taken immediately.

Third, the government must begin to prepare public
opinion to accept the abolition of the death penalty. Fourth,
it must sign Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on
Human Rights, providing for the abolition of the death
penalty in peacetime. Lastly, the government and parliament
must prepare and enact legislation to remove the death
penalty from the country's penal code.

The number of executions disclosed by the Council of
Europe rapporteur confirms reports received by Amnesty
International that approximately 100 people were executed
this year. Amnesty International has been able to confirm
five of those executions, one in March, one in June, two in
August and one in October. The organization has appealed to
President Leonid Kuchma to grant clemency to all death
penalty prisoners, but President Kuchma never replied to the
appeals.

Birger Hagard, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal
Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe, said at the news conference it was hard to
understand why this number of executions had happened.
"Ukraine hurts itself by having these executions," he said.
"Ukraine hurts its reputation as a free country with
relations to the rest of Europe."

According to Amnesty International, the relatives of
Sergey Tekuchev, executed in October, have claimed that he
was innocent and that his confession was obtained under
duress. There are claims that the emergency services were
called six times in October 1994 to treat him for injuries
resulting from beatings in custody and that the prison
authorities refused to pass to him medication from his
relatives.

BACKGROUND

Ukraine committed itself on 26 September 1995 to sign
Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights
within one year of accession to the Council of Europe ~and to
put into place, with immediate effect from the day of
accession, a moratorium on executions~. It acceded to the
Council of Europe on 9 November 1995.

The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental
organization comprising 40 western and eastern European
states. Its Parliamentary Assembly adopted a policy in June
1996 that any new state joining the Council must stop
executions immediately and indicate its willingness to
abolish the death penalty.
ENDS\
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