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Iran: The death penalty is an inhumane punishment for death row prisoners, their families and society as a whole

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"Whether guilty or not, the outcome of the death penalty is the same. In Iran, the death penalty is by hanging, and it takes from several agonising seconds to several harrowing minutes for death to occur and for everything to be over."

Every year several hundred people are executed by the Iranian authorities.
According to reports by Iran Human Rights (IHR) and other human rights groups, death row prisoners have often no access to a defence lawyer after their arrest and are sentenced to death following unfair trials and based on confessions extracted from them under torture. 
These are issues which have been addressed in IHR’s previous reports. The current report is based on first-hand accounts of several inmates held in Iran's prisons and their families. The report seeks to illustrate other aspects of how the death penalty affects the inmate, their families and, as a consequence, society.
How does a death row inmate experience his final hours?
Speaking about the final ho…

Mexico says upcoming U.S. execution of national is 'illegal'

Ruben Cardenas
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Senior Mexican diplomats on Monday condemned the upcoming execution of a Mexican inmate on death row in Texas, calling his sentence “illegal” and vowing to exhaust all possible efforts to prevent him from being killed later this week.

In a news conference in Mexico City, Carlos Sada, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister for North America, told reporters that Texas prosecutors did not follow due process in the case of Ruben Cardenas, who was sentenced to death for raping and killing his 15-year-old cousin in 1997.

“From the start, there has been a failure, and from our perspective, this is an illegal act,” Sada said.

The planned execution comes as relations between Mexico and the United States are at a low, hurt by U.S. President Donald Trump’s vows to build a wall along the Mexican border, and his threats to end the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Cardenas, who is due to die on Wednesday, was not given the chance to speak with consular officials in contravention of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Sada said.

He added Mexico would look to stay the execution by seeking to overturn how Cardenas’ confession was obtained, while also looking to exonerate him with up-to-date DNA testing.

There are currently two separate appeals under way and Mexico is willing to take Cardenas’ case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary, Sada added.

Mexico does not have the death penalty and opposes it, regularly clashing with the United States when Mexican nationals are set to be executed on U.S. soil. Sada said 54 Mexicans were currently facing U.S. death sentences.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled in 2004 that the United States had violated international law by failing to inform 51 Mexicans now on death row of their right to consular assistance, and said the cases should be reviewed.

Alejandro Alday, a legal advisor to the Mexican government, said Cardenas was one of the 51 covered by the ICJ ruling, and accused Texas of breaching the Vienna convention in failing to advise Cardenas of his right to consular assistance.

Source: Reuters, November 7, 2017


Commentary: A sad day for human rights in Texas


The Walls Unit, Huntsville, Texas
Wednesday could be a sad day for those of us who believe in human rights. If Ruben Cárdenas-Ramírez, a Mexican national, faces his scheduled execution, another battle to preserve the right to life and justice will be lost.

For the government of Mexico this is not an issue about culpability or innocence, but about respect for human rights and due process. Because we hold these principles as unalienable rights, Mexico has displayed a solid legal strategy to assist Cárdenas-Ramírez and 57 other Mexican nationals who are facing the death penalty in the United States.

Since the beginning of his case — Cárdenas-Ramírez was charged in the 1997 rape and murder of his 16-year-old cousin in South Texas — he was denied the right to due process of law, as he was not granted prompt access to consular assistance. Mexico presented Cárdenas-Ramirez’s case to the International Court of Justice, along with those of other Mexican nationals sentenced to death in the United States. In 2004, the court decided in the Case Concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals. The judgment stated that the U.S. breached its obligations under international law by not notifying Mexican authorities about the arrest of 51 of its nationals, thus denying them the right to consular assistance from their government.

In 2010, at the request of the government of Mexico, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued its opinion on the matter. The commission recommended that the government of Texas cancel the execution of Cárdenas-Ramírez and provide him with a new trial. Furthermore, Cárdenas-Ramirez’s case was included in the Mexican government’s Capital Legal Assistance Program, which provides highly specialized legal assistance for Mexicans facing the death penalty in the United States.

Through legal and diplomatic channels, Cárdenas Ramírez’s lawyers have requested that Texas authorities consider their client’s claim of innocence and allow a new DNA test to be conducted. Additionally, the government of Mexico has repeatedly requested that Texas honor U.S. international commitments and abide by international law.

Despite all efforts, an execution date was fixed for Wednesday. In response, the government of Mexico and many other countries, as well as international organizations and civil society, have petitioned Texas authorities for clemency on behalf of Cárdenas-Ramírez. The Consulate General of Mexico in Austin delivered over 20 petition letters from Mexican federal and state authorities to the governor of Texas and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The petition has been echoed by other nations that firmly oppose the death penalty.

Mexico stands against the execution of Ruben Cárdenas-Ramírez and any other person facing the death penalty. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, capital punishment undermines human dignity. It has an irrevocable nature, posing an unacceptable risk of executing innocent people. There is no evidence proving that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to crime. Furthermore, it has been deemed to be a form of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, given the extreme conditions prisoners endure for many years while waiting in death row.

The government of Mexico firmly believes in the fundamental nature of the right to life. For this reason, we consider that capital punishment constitutes one of the most essential violations of human rights. Like many countries, Mexico opposes capital punishment. Wednesday will be a day of grieving. Nonetheless, we will continue tirelessly protecting our nationals.

Source: My Statesman, Opinion, González Gutiérrez, November 6, 2017. González Gutiérrez is the consul general of Mexico in Austin.


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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