Press Release

IACHR Urges United States to Comply with Recommendations in Death Penalty Case

November 7, 2017

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the United States of America to stay the execution of Rubén Ramírez Cárdenas, a Mexican citizen and beneficiary of IACHR precautionary measures who is scheduled to be executed on November 8, 2017, in the state of Texas. In light of its findings on the merits of his case, the IACHR also urges the United States to grant him an effective remedy, including a new trial, in accordance with the guarantees of due process and a fair trial established in the American Declaration.

On July 24, 2008, the IACHR issued Report on the Merits No. 45/08, in which it concluded that the United States was responsible for violating the rights to due process and to a fair trial, both recognized in the American Declaration, in respect of the criminal proceedings that led to the imposition of the death penalty against Rubén Ramírez Cárdenas and two other men. In that report, the IACHR concluded that should the State execute them pursuant to the criminal proceedings at issue in the case, it would commit an irreparable violation of the fundamental right to life guaranteed in Article I of the American Declaration.

Consequently, in that Report on the Merits, the IACHR recommended to the United States that it provide the victims with an effective remedy, including a new trial in accordance with the equality, due process, and fair trial protections set forth in the American Declaration, including the right to competent legal representation. The IACHR urges the United States to respect its international human rights obligations, especially those derived from the American Declaration and the OAS Charter. Despite having made these recommendations in 2008, the Commission does not have any information that would indicate that the State has complied with them.

On October 18, 2017, the IACHR adopted Resolution 41/2017 by which it granted precautionary measures for Rubén Ramírez Cárdenas, requesting that the United States adopt the necessary measures to protect his life and personal integrity; refrain from applying the death penalty against Rubén Ramírez Cárdenas; ensure that his conditions of detention are in line with applicable inter-American standards; and provide him with appropriate medical care for his state of health, among other steps.

The United States has been subject to the international obligations set forth in the Charter of the Organization of American States since it joined the OAS in 1951. Consequently, the IACHR urges the United States, and particularly the state of Texas, to fully respect its international obligations on human rights.

The Inter-American Commission reminds the State that carrying out the death penalty not only would cause irreparable harm to this person, but would also mean that the State has failed to comply with the recommendations of the IACHR; such a measure goes against its fundamental human rights obligations as an OAS Member State under the OAS Charter and related instruments.

The Commission also urges the United States to comply with the recommendations in the Report on the Merits related to structural changes. Among other things, the United States should review its laws, procedures, and practices to ensure that foreign nationals who are arrested or committed to prison or to custody pending trial, or who are detained in any other manner in the United States, are informed without delay of their right to consular assistance and that, with the person’s approval, the appropriate consulate is informed without delay of the foreign national’s circumstances.

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 the respect for and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 175/17