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United States/Death row: United Nations Experts call on Government of United States to stop the execution of Troy Davis

21 September 2011

GENEVA – The United Nations 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, have called on the Government of the United States to stop the execution of Troy Davis, scheduled for today at 7 p.m. local time. Yesterday, the state of Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles declined clemency to Mr. Troy.

“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,” the experts said. The Government of the United States has the 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 Right.

The experts deplored that the case against Troy Davis 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 Troy Davis, or recanted or changed their testimony. It is of concern that the execution is scheduled even when there are significant questions still open related to his conviction.

“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, as required by the ‘Safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty’,” the United Nations independent experts stressed.

“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 Special Raporteurs concluded.

Mr. Christof Heyns, from South Africa, was appointed by the Human Rights Council as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in August 2010. He is Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria and Co-director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/executions/index.htm

Ms. Gabriela Knaul, from Brazil, took up her functions as Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers on 1 August 2009. She has a long-standing experience as a judge and is an expert in criminal justice and the administration of judicial systems. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/judiciary/index.htm

Mr. Juan E. Méndez, from Argentina, was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on 1 November 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/torture/rapporteur/index.htm

OHCHR Country Page – USA: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/USIndex.aspx

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