IACHR grants precautionary measures in favor of Clarence Wayne Dixon on death row in the United States

May 10, 2022

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Washington, D.C. - On May 10, 2022, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 22/2022, whereby it granted precautionary measures in favor of Clarence Wayne Dixon, who is scheduled to be executed on May 11, 2022, and is currently on death row in Arizona, in the United States of America, allegedly under conditions of detention incompatible with international human rights standards. The IACHR considered that he is in a serious and urgent situation presenting a risk of irreparable harm to his rights.

The request alleges that Clarence Wayne Dixon is a person of Navajo origin, who suffers from multiple mental and physical health conditions, such as paranoid type schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, glaucoma with secondary blindness, among others.

The applicant filed a petition alleging violations of several articles of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, particularly in relation to access to justice, due process, and adequate defense. In addition, the applicant stated that Wayne Dixon was not duly represented during the criminal proceedings against him, referring to the lack of necessary legal advice from his defense lawyers, as well as negligence because they did not object to him defending himself in a criminal case, despite his mental illness.

Upon analyzing the submissions of fact and law provided, the IACHR considered that the execution is imminent, given the scheduled date. Accordingly, the Commission did not request any relevant information from the United States in the matter at hand (pursuant to the exception provided for in Article 25(5) of its Rules of Procedure). Given the possibility that the death penalty may have been imposed without strict respect for the rights to a fair trial and due process guarantees, the Commission would not have the opportunity to make a decision on the merits of the petition that was initially filed with the petition and case system and any subsequent decision would be rendered moot.

Considering the foregoing, it was determined that Wayne Dixon's situation meets the requirements of seriousness, urgency, and irreparable harm established in Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, both in the precautionary and protective dimensions of the precautionary measures mechanism.

In the resolution, the Commission considered that Clarence Wayne Dixon's rights are at risk due to the imminent execution of the death penalty and its consequent effects on his petition currently under analysis; as well as given his conditions of solitary confinement on death row and their impact on his rights to life and personal integrity.

Accordingly, the Inter-American Commission requests that the United States of America:

  1. adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and personal integrity of Clarence Wayne Dixon;
  2. refrain from carrying out the death penalty to Clarence Wayne Dixon, until the IACHR has had the opportunity to reach a decision on his petition;
  3. ensure that Clarence Wayne Dixon's detention conditions are consistent with international standards, giving special consideration to his disabilities and medical condition; and
  4. agree on the measures to be adopted with the beneficiary and his representatives.

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 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. 099/22

5:55 PM