Texas executions break international law By Gloria Rubac Houston
Published Aug 14, 2008 11:10 PM In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Baze v. Rees that the three drugs used in lethal injections were okay, opening the door for executions to proceed after an eight-month hiatus. Since then, 18 people have been executed, 100 percent of them from the South, 33 percent of them in Texas, and all but one by lethal injection.
James Wood’s family and supporters rally at Alamo in San Antonio to protest his impending execution. WW photos: Gloria Rubac In the first week of August, Texas authorities drew international condemnation after executing two noncitizens who were denied access to their consulate in violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, signed by 165 countries including the U.S.
Mexican citizen José Medellín’s execution was put on hold for almost four hours on Aug. 5, while the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed appeals. Protestors gathered in Huntsville during thunderstorms from Tropical Storm Edouard.
Chi’s mother and cousin just after the Honduran’s execution in Huntsville. The crowd grew during the five-hour delay and was joined by Heliberto Chi’s family, who carried signs, wore T-shirts with Chi’s photo on them, and spoke at the rally.
Medellín’s case garnered worldwide attention after the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered the U.S. to prevent the execution until a review of his case could be held.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a statement that “The Mexican government will continue insisting on the obligation of the United States to provide the review and reconsideration of the death sentence of other Mexican nationals.” (Houston Chronicle)
Demonstrations were held around Mexico, including a large one on the international bridge between McAllen, Texas, and Reynosa, Mexico.
Two days later, protesters again gathered in Huntsville, this time for the Aug. 7 execution of Chi, a Honduran citizen. Not only were Chi’s rights violated under the Vienna Convention, but also under a treaty signed directly between Honduras and the U.S., ironically named the Treaty for Friendship and Commerce.
Chi’s brother Hernan, in front of Huntsville, Texas, Death House. Chi’s brother Hernán spoke at the rally outside the death house, saying that the U.S. “is an imperial country that only cares about money, not Black people and Brown people and poor people. We are a poor people and here we have no rights.”
At 6:00 p.m. when the execution was to begin, 15 to 20 family members surrounded Mirna Chi, Heliberto’s mother. They stood with protesters during the execution.
Chi’s cousin Édgar witnessed the execution for the family and came out of the death house sobbing and then collapsed into the arms of the family. Through sobs he explained in Spanish to media from Mexico, Honduras and Latin America what had happened in the execution chamber. “He is at peace. He is with Jesus now. He said that he loved all of you.”
Relatives gathered to meet his returning coffin at a Honduran airport on Aug. 10 wearing T-shirts with Chi’s photo and the slogan, “For us and the people of Honduras, you will always live.”
Chi’s 17-year-old brother Germán told Workers World that their grandmother had taken ill in July and told the family she was going to die because she did not want to be alive when the U.S. took her grandson from her. He will be buried near his grandmother on Aug. 12 in the coastal city of San Pedro Sula.
Of the 3,300 people on death row in the U.S., 121 are foreign nationals from 33 countries. Fifty-five are from Mexico.
There are now 21 more executions scheduled in the U.S. and 14 of them are in Texas.
Capital punishment is falling out of favor with many in this country, as fewer people are being charged with capital murder and juries are sentencing fewer people to death. Due to over 125 innocent people being released from death row, many realize that the finality of an execution cannot be undone if a wrongful conviction is discovered.
Of the 14 executions Texas now has scheduled, several have serious legal issues.
Two men convicted under Texas’ controversial Law of Parties statute are scheduled to be executed within the same week: Michael Rodriguez on Aug. 14 and Jeff Wood on Aug. 21. Although neither was charged with being the actual murderer, they were both convicted and sentenced to die. Rodriguez has given up his appeals and is a volunteer.
Wood is fighting and has support from his large family as well as abolitionist organizations. On Aug. 2, they held a press conference and rally in San Antonio in the tourist area around the Alamo. Every television station as well as the daily paper covered the event. Hundreds of people in the park signed petitions for Wood.
The highlight of the day was Kids Against the Death Penalty, who wore their own T-shirts and had their own flyer for Wood. They spoke at the rally, attracting the attention of children and adults alike. After the rally, the KADP led an impromptu march around the Alamo.
The next rally for Wood is on Aug. 16 in Austin at the Texas Capitol. See www.savejeffwood.com.
Greg Wright had DNA testing of evidence found on a pair of jeans that showed they were not his jeans, and he passed a polygraph test. There is also a written confession from his codefendant, John Wade Adams, but the state of Texas has issued an execution date of September 9, 2008. See www.freegregwright.com.
Charles Hood is scheduled to die on Sept. 10. Hood’s lawyers allege that Texas state court Judge Verla Sue Holland had “a personal and direct interest in the outcome of the case” and was disqualified from trying the case under the Texas Constitution because of her ongoing affair with Hood’s prosecutor, Collin County District Attorney Tom O’Connell.
Reginald Perkins has a date for Jan. 22, 2009. According to the Coalition for Truth and Justice, “Perkins has a very low IQ and is mentally retarded. There was neglect and emotional and physical abuse of Perkins. He and his sibling were beaten by their mother and spent nights under the porch to avoid more beatings. His family lived in abject poverty. His mother never showed affection toward her kids and called Reginald ‘f***ing cross eyes.’ She told him many times she didn’t want him to be born and did everything she could think of to try to abort him.”
“With so many questionable legal situations and knowing that only the poor face execution, it is crucial that we intensify our efforts to abolish the death penalty,” stated Njeri Shakur, organizer with the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement. “George Bush is a mass murderer but he is not on death row, so the arguments that the death penalty is only for the ‘worse of the worse’ is a fallacy. It is for the poor and oppressed.”
Texas Executes a Mexican Citizen Despite a Breach of the Vienna Convention: A Decision that Undermines America's International Standing and Commitment to the Rule of Law By EDWARD LAZARUS Thursday,... more