IACHR urges the United States to refrain from applying the death penalty on Melissa Lucio, beneficiary of precautionary measures

April 22, 2022

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Washington, D.C.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the United States of America to refrain from applying the death penalty imposed on Melissa Lucio, set for April 27, 2022. Melissa Lucio is beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by Resolution 10/2022 of February 18, and has been held in Texas on death row, in solitary confinement, for 14 years.

By means of that resolution, the IACHR requested that the United States adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and personal integrity of Melissa Lucio and refrain from carrying out the death penalty until the Commission has had the opportunity to reach a decision on her petition that is pending before the IACHR Petition and Case System. Similarly, the State was requested to ensure detention conditions that are consistent with international standards, giving special consideration to the personal conditions of the beneficiary and, ultimately, to adopt the measures in question upon consultation with the beneficiary and her representatives.

Following the granting of the precautionary measures, the State indicated last April 18 that the precautionary measures issued in favor of Melissa Lucio were sent to the Governor and the Attorney General of the state of Texas on February 23. The State also noted that the request for updated information was forwarded to the aforementioned authorities.

The Commission recalls that, as stated in the report The death penalty in the Inter‐American System of Human Rights: From restrictions to abolition, the main concerns identified in relation to the application of the death penalty are 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.

In this sense, the IACHR calls once again to eliminate the death penalty, or alternatively, to impose a moratorium on executions as a step towards its gradual abolition. In the same way, the IACHR reiterates its recommendation to take all necessary measures to ensure compliance with the highest standards of due process, including the duty to observe the gender perspective in cases involving the application of this penalty, particularly when there is a history of gender-based violence.

The IACHR recalls that the precautionary measures granted seek to preserve the legal situation of Ms. Lucio while her situation is being considered by the IACHR. The precautionary function aims to safeguard the rights at risk until the petition is resolved, in order to ensure the effectiveness of an eventual decision on the merits, stage in which the Commission decides whether or not there were violations of human rights. In this regard, precautionary measures enable the State concerned to comply with the final recommendations made by the IACHR.

The decision to grant this precautionary measure and its adoption by the State do not constitute a prejudgment of any petition filed with the inter-American system alleging violations of the rights protected in the American Convention and other applicable instruments.

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.

No. 087/22

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