UN human rights experts call on US to halt today’s execution of death row inmate

A preserved cell on death row. Photo: Thesab

21 September 2011 – Three independent United Nations human rights experts have called on the United States Government to stop the execution scheduled for later today of Troy Davis, amid concerns that he did not receive a fair trial.

Yesterday the Board of Pardons and Paroles in the state of Georgia declined clemency to Mr. Davis, 42, who is reportedly set to be executed by lethal injection at 7 p.m. local time for the 1989 shooting death of a police officer.

“Not only do we urgently appeal to the Government of the United States and the state of Georgia to find a way to stop the scheduled execution, but we believe that serious consideration should be given to commuting the sentence,” the experts stated.

The experts – the UN Special Rapporteur on arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns; the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul; and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan Méndez – deplored that the case mainly relied on the testimonies of witnesses which contained “serious” inconsistencies.

Many of the witnesses affirmed that they had been pressured or coerced into testifying against Mr. Davis, or recanted or changed their testimony, noted a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“We recall that the death penalty may only be imposed when the guilt of the person charged is based upon clear and convincing evidence, leaving no room for an alternative explanation of the facts,” the experts stressed.

They reminded the US Government of its obligation to ensure that anyone under its jurisdiction receives a fair trial, as required under article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“Given the irreversible nature of the death penalty, it is crucial that fair trial standards are fully respected in all judicial proceedings related to offences punishable with the death penalty,” said the experts, who all report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.


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