Press Release

IACHR Urges United States to Suspend Execution of Leal García

July 1, 2011

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the United States to stay the execution of Humberto Leal García, which is scheduled to take place July 7, 2011, even though in its report on the merits of the case the IACHR had recommended that the United States suspend the death sentence and hold a new trial.

On July 24, 2008, the IACHR approved Report No. 45/08 on the merits of the case and determined that the State had violated Articles I, XVIII, and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man against Leal García and other individuals, with regard to the criminal proceedings that led to the imposition of the death penalty.

The IACHR determined, among other aspects, that the fact that the State had not met its obligation, under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to inform the victims of their right to notification with respect to consular assistance meant that the criminal proceedings against them did not meet the minimum standards of due process and a fair trial established in Articles XVIII and XXVI of the American Declaration. The Commission concluded that if the State executed them based on those proceedings, it would be committing an irreparable violation of the fundamental right to life, protected in Article I of the American Declaration. Consequently, the IACHR recommended that the State, among other things, suspend the death sentence imposed on Leal García and the other victims in the case, and hold a new trial in accordance with the protections prescribed in the American Declaration—equality before the law, due process, and a fair trial, including the right to competent legal representation.

Apart from informing the IACHR about the steps it had taken to meet its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in a general sense, there is no record that the State has undertaken any action designed to carry out the Commission's recommendations.

After the execution of Leal García was scheduled for July 7, 2011, the Inter-American Commission reiterated its request that the government of the United States stay the execution of Mr. Leal García until a process could be established to arrange for a review of his case.

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 an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 65/11