Press Release

IACHR Urges United States to Suspend Execution of John Winfield

June 11, 2014

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the United States to suspend the judicial execution of John Winfield, beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR. The execution is scheduled to take place on June 18, 2014, in the state of Missouri.

The IACHR granted precautionary measures to protect the life and physical integrity of John Winfield on June 6, 2014. The request for precautionary measures had been filed in the context of a petition alleging the violation of rights set forth in the American Declaration. Through the precautionary measures, the Commission asked the United States to refrain from carrying out the death penalty until the IACHR had the opportunity to issue a decision on the petitioner's claims regarding the alleged violations of the American Declaration. The Commission is processing the petition, which is currently in the admissibility stage of the proceedings. Both in the petition and the request for precautionary measures the petitioner argues that the method of execution is incompatible with international human rights standards, and that the state in question has failed to provide information about the drugs to be used in the execution.

The failure of a Member State of the Organization of American States to heed a request that it preserve a condemned prisoner's life pending review of his or her petition seriously contravenes its international legal obligations. This deprives condemned persons in the United States of their right to petition before the inter-American human rights system prior to the execution of the death penalty.

The Commission urges the United States to implement the precautionary measures regarding John Winfield until the Commission can issue a decision on the case, and to fully and properly respect its international human rights obligations, especially those derived from the American Declaration and the OAS Charter. In this regard, the IACHR expects the United States to suspend this execution.

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 Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 66/14