IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the decision of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to suspend the application of the death penalty to Melissa Lucio, a beneficiary of precautionary measures, in the United States. According to official reports, the Court intervened two days before the execution date, set for April 27, 2022.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decision stays Melissa Lucio's death sentence and orders a trial court to review four specific claims to determine whether to grant a new trial: that the conviction is based on the use of false and scientifically invalid testimony by the State, that new scientific evidence undermines her conviction, that the State suppressed information favorable to Lucio, and that she is truly innocent.
For its part, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles indicated in a press release that it would not make a clemency recommendation at this time in light of the Court of Criminal Appeals ruling.
On February 18, 2022, the IACHR approved Resolution 10/2022, granting precautionary measures in favor of Melissa Lucio, considering that she faced a serious and urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to her rights in the United States. This precautionary measure is linked to petition 2227-21.
The request for precautionary measures indicated that Melissa Lucio was tried and convicted for the death of her daughter, alleging that she did not have an adequate defense and that the trial court excluded critical testimonial evidence, that would have presented essential evidence for her defense. Similarly, it was indicated that Melissa Lucio has been confined in Texas on death row, in solitary confinement, for 14 years, which has irreparably harmed her physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.
It should be noted that Lucio has limited cognitive abilities, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, aspects that have purportedly left her even more vulnerable to the acute trauma inherent in solitary confinement under death penalty. In addition, it was indicated that Ms. Lucio is a survivor of gender violence.
Melissa Lucio's situation was brought before the IACHR petition and case system, through petition 2227-21, in which violations of different articles of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man regarding Melissa Lucio's rights to a fair trial and to due process of laware alleged. In this regard, the Commission will continue with the analysis of the alleged violations, under the regulations in force for the Petition and Case System.
The IACHR calls on the United States to eliminate the death penalty, or alternatively, to impose a moratorium on executions as a step towards its gradual abolition. The Commission also recalls the main concerns stated in the report "The death penalty in the Inter‐American System of Human Rights: From restrictions to abolition": the risk of executing innocent people, the arbitrariness and injustice in the application of this penalty, and the inhuman treatment that characterizes the stay on death row.
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 observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The IACHR is composed of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.