CONDEMNS EXECUTION OF TWO PEOPLE
IN THE UNITED STATES
Washington, D.C., June 21, 2010 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the judicial execution by the United States of David Powell and Ronnie Lee Gardner, in defiance of the precautionary measures the IACHR granted in their favor. Mr. Powell was executed in the state of Texas on June 15, 2010, and Mr. Gardner in the state of Utah on June 18, 2010. 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 June 14, 2010, the IACHR granted precautionary measures for David Powell, who had been imprisoned since 1978 awaiting the death penalty. The precautionary measures were issued in the context of a petition alleging the violation of rights enshrined in the American Declaration. The petition alleged irregularities in the criminal proceedings and that Mr. Powell’s lengthy incarceration on death row constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
On June 17, 2010, the IACHR granted precautionary measures for Ronnie Lee Gardner, who had been imprisoned since 1985 awaiting the death penalty. The precautionary measures were granted in the context of a communication about the alleged violation of rights enshrined in the American Declaration. The communication alleged issues related to lack of due process, and that Mr. Gardner's lengthy incarceration on death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Through the precautionary measures, the Commission asked the United States to refrain from executing Mr. Powell and Mr. Gardner, until the IACHR had an opportunity to issue its decisions on the petitioners’ claims regarding alleged violations of the American Declaration.
The failure of a Member State of the Organization of American 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, prior to the execution of the death penalty.
The Commission deplores the failure on the part of the United States to recognize its requests that the government respect the lives of Mr. Powell and Mr. Gardner. The Commission urges the United States to implement all the precautionary measures granted and demands that the government fully and properly respect its international human rights obligations set forth in the American Declaration.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
Precautionary Measures granted by the IACHR in 2010
Press Release 35/08: IACHR Condemns the Execution of Heliberto Chi Aceituno
Press Release 33/08: IACHR Condemns the Execution of Jose Ernesto Medellin
Press Release 22/06: IACHR Condemns the Execution of Angel Maturino Resendiz
IACHR Press Office
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