N° 33/08



Washington, D.C., August 6, 2008 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the judicial execution by the United States of the Mexican citizen José Ernesto Medellín, in contempt of the precautionary measures the IACHR granted in his favor on December 6, 2006, and the recommendations of its report on the merits, dated July 24, 2008. Mr. Medellín was executed in the state of Texas on August 5, 2008. This is not the first time the United States has executed a person who has been the beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR.


Mr. Medellín filed a petition with the IACHR on November 22, 2006, alleging due process violations in the criminal proceedings that resulted in a sentence of capital punishment. On December 6, 2006, the IACHR asked the United States to take the necessary measures to preserve Mr. Medellín’s life pending the Commission’s decision on the merits of the case. That request was reiterated on January 30, 2007.


On July 24, 2008, the IACHR approved its Report No. 45/08 on the merits of the case, and determined that the State violated Articles I, XVIII and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man against Mr. Medellín, with respect to the criminal conviction that led to his death sentence. Among other aspects, the IACHR determined that as a result of the State’s failure to fulfill its obligation, under Article 36.1 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to inform Mr. Medellín of his right to consular notification and assistance, the criminal process against him did not meet the minimum standards of due process and a fair trial required under Articles XVIII and XXVI of the American Declaration. The Commission concluded that if the State executed Mr. Medellín based on those proceedings, it would commit an irreparable violation of his fundamental right to life, protected by Article I of the American Declaration. The IACHR thus recommended, among other things, that the State vacate the death penalty imposed on Mr. Medellín and hold a new trial in accordance with the protections prescribed under the American Declaration—equality, due process, and a fair trial, including the right to competent legal representation.


The Commission deplores the failure on the part of the United States to recognize the Commission’s requests that it respect the life of Mr. Medellín, as well as the lives of other persons sentenced to death in similar circumstances. The Commission urges the United States to implement all the precautionary measures granted by the Commission, and demands that it fully and properly respect its international human rights obligations, especially those derived from the American Declaration.


Read this press release in Spanish / Lea este comunicado de prensa en español


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