The death penalty in Ukraine

Olga Tereshchenko
Olga Tereshchenko

The death penalty is prohibited in most of (135) civilized countries. The highest sentence has still been in force in 58 countries. These are mainly Asian and African countries, including developing countries such as the UAE, USA, Syria, Singapore, Japan. Belarus is the only one European country that has not banned the death penalty yet.
Article 3 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and person security. Article 6 the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights declares that the right to life is an integral part of every person. This right is protected by law and no one can be arbitrarily deprived of life.
Independent Ukraine inherited from Soviet power The Criminal Code that was put into effect on April 1, 1961, which provided the death penalty as a form of punishment.
On December 29, 1999, the death penalty was declared unconstitutional by a decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. The Court stated that the right to life enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine is absolute and respect for the human life value, one of the fundamental principles to build a legal, democratic society. The inherent right of every person to life is inextricably combined with his or her right to human dignity. The death penalty does not meet the purpose of punishment – it makes impossible to correct the consequences of the crime. For instance the possibility of a judicial error.
The death penalty is not one of the factors that deter crime. This is confirmed by criminological research: the number of crimes against human life does not decrease with the increase in death sentences. For almost 40 years (since the entry into force of the Criminal Code – April 1, 1961), the number of premeditated murders has increased despite the use of an exceptional punishment. This means that the crime prevention as the death penalty just has not justified itself.
The actual abolition of the death penalty in Independent Ukraine occurred in February 2000 after ratification of Protocol No. 6 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Protocol entered into force in 2003. Over the course of the article, 612 prisoners were officially executed in Ukraine.
In 2001, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted a new Criminal Code, in which the death penalty was replaced to life imprisonment. Despite improvements in search and other crime prevention methods. The development of international cooperation, the political determination of the state – politicians raise the issue of the death penalty renewal
On September 25, 2017, a petition was released to renew the death penalty. It got only 118 signatures.
On June 23, 2019, Igor Shevchenko, the former Minister of Ecology, initiated to renew the petition and to re-establish the death penalty for particularly serious crimes and garnered 20071 votes from the 25,000 required.
Yves Kruechten, rapporteur on the abolition of the death penalty of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said: “A higher degree of punishment is terrible and inhuman punishment that is no longer acceptable in Europe.”
Independent Ukraine went the hard way to abolish the death penalty at 9, and before that, it had a difficult bloody history of struggle. During the Soviet era, tens of thousands of the best representatives of the Ukrainian nation were secretly killed in the cellars of the KGB (SSC), for which no one has yet answered.
Nature has given everyone the right to life. This right is inalienable and absolute, and is outlined in the commandments of God in the formula “Thou shalt not kill.” It is a violation not only of rights but also of faith and morality. And the ancient principle of Talion – will leave us not only without our eyes, but also without our heads.

Olga Tereshchenko, Ukrainian International Lawyer