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The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

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Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Iran: execution of juvenile offender

Juvenile offender Amir Amrollahi’s death sentence received final approval from the Head of the Judiciary earlier this month, and judicial officials in Shiraz province have been asked to prepare to carry out his execution. He was sentenced to death for a murder committed when he was 16 years old.

The murder took place in November 2006 during a fight with another boy, who was fatally stabbed. According to his lawyer, who took up his case this year, Amir Amrollahi ran off in a panic after stabbing the boy, who he thought was about to attack him. Medical help did not arrive for half an hour, by which time it was too late. Amir Amrollahi told his father what had happened, the same day, and later presented himself to the police.

His family could not afford adequate legal representation at his trial. According to his new lawyer, the court did not hear that the killing had been unintentional, or that he was prescribed heavy doses of sedatives while in prison awaiting trial. His mental state at the time of the trial was not properly considered.

On 6 August 2007, Branch 5 of Fars province criminal court sentenced him to death, although one of the court advisors had expressed concern about his age and his ability to understand and recognize what was going on. The sentence was upheld by Branch 27 of Supreme Court on 11 October.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The execution of juvenile offenders is prohibited by international law. Since 1990 Iran has executed at least 35 juvenile offenders, eight of them in 2007 and four in 2008.

The family of a murder victim has the right either to insist on execution, or to pardon the killer and receive financial compensation. A convicted murderer has no right to seek pardon or commutation from the state, in violation of Article 6(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party.

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Source: Amnesty International

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