N° 35/08




Washington, D.C., August 8, 2008 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the judicial execution by the United States of the Honduran citizen Heliberto Chi Aceituno, in defiance of the precautionary measures the IACHR granted in his favor. Mr. Chi Aceituno was executed in the state of Texas on August 7, 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.


On September 24, 2007, the IACHR received a request for precautionary measures and a petition in favour of Mr. Chi Aceituno, on the alleged violation of the rights enshrined in Articles I, XXVI, and XVIII of the American Declaration, which is in proceedings before the Commission.  The petition alleges violations of due process, in particular, that Mr. Chi Aceituno was not informed of the right to consular assistance throughout the proceeding that culminated in his being sentenced to death.  On September 28, 2007, the Inter-American Commission asked the United States to adopt the measures necessary to preserve the life and physical integrity of the beneficiary pending the Commission’s decision on the merits of the case. On the same date, the Commission initiated the processing of the case. After receiving information that Mr. Chi’s execution had been scheduled for August 7, 2008, the Commission reiterated the precautionary measures to the United States, on July 16, 2008.


The failure of a Member State of the Organization of American States, including the United States, to preserve a condemned prisoner's life pending review of his or her petition contravenes its international legal obligations by undermining the effectiveness of the Commission's procedures, depriving condemned persons of their right to petition before the Inter-American Human Rights System, and resulting in serious and irreparable harm to a petitioner’s most fundamental right, the right to life.


            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. Chi Aceituno, 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.



Helpful links

Press Release 22/06: IACHR condemns the execution of Angel Maturino Resendiz

Press Release 33/08: IACHR condemns the execution of Jose Ernesto Medellin


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

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