Press Release

IACHR Condemns Execution of Manuel Valle in the United States

October 6, 2011

Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the judicial execution of Manuel Valle, which took place on September 28, 2011, in a prison in the state of Florida, United States, in defiance of the precautionary measures the IACHR granted in his favor.

Manuel Valle was convicted of homicide and sentenced to death in 1978. Since that time, a series of appeals were filed at the federal and state levels, culminating in a final decision to proceed with his execution. On August 10, 2011, the IACHR received a request for precautionary measures, in the context of a petition alleging the violation of rights enshrined in the American Declaration. The applicants alleged the violation of Manuel Valle’s rights to humane treatment and to appeal his death sentence by means of effective clemency proceedings.

On August 18, 2011, the IACHR granted precautionary measures to protect the life and physical integrity of Manuel Valle. Through these measures, the Commission asked the United States to refrain from carrying out the death penalty until the IACHR had the opportunity to issue a decision on the petitioners' claims regarding the alleged violations of the American Declaration.

The Commission is aware of the pain and suffering caused to victims and their families by the egregious crime of murder and is cognizant of the duty of states to protect potential victims of this crime and to punish those responsible. At the same time, the Commission emphasizes that the efforts by states to combat this and other serious crimes must be carried out with the utmost respect for the human rights of the persons under their jurisdiction and in compliance with the applicable international human rights commitments.

The failure of a member state of the Organization of American States, including the United States, to preserve a condemned prisoner's life pending review of his or her petition contravenes its international legal obligations by undermining the effectiveness of the Commission's procedures, depriving condemned persons of their right to petition in the inter-American human rights system, and resulting in serious and irreparable harm to a petitioner’s most fundamental right, the right to life.

The Commission deplores the failure on the part of the United States to comply with the precautionary measures, the primary purpose of which was to preserve the right of petition of Manuel Valle. As a general matter, the Commission urges the United States to implement the precautionary measures granted and the recommendations issued in its reports, and reiterates that the Government is obligated to fully and properly respect its international human rights obligations set forth in the American Declaration.

The Commission will continue the processing of Petition 1058-11, in order to determine whether the State has incurred international responsibility in this 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. 106/11