Press Release

IACHR Urges United States to Suspend Execution of Charles Warner in Oklahoma

January 15, 2015

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the United States to suspend the judicial execution of Charles Warner, beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR. The execution is scheduled to take place today, January 15, 2015, in the state of Oklahoma.

The IACHR granted precautionary measures to protect the life and physical integrity of Charles Warner on May 20, 2014. The request for precautionary measures had been filed in the context of a petition alleging the violation of rights set forth in the American Declaration. Through the precautionary 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 processing the petition, which is currently in the admissibility stage of the proceedings. Both in the petition and the request for precautionary measures the petitioners argue that the method of execution is incompatible with international human rights standards, and that the state of Oklahoma has failed to provide information about the drugs and protocols to be used in the execution.

This is reportedly the first scheduled execution in Oklahoma since the controversial and criticized execution of Clayton Lockett by lethal injection in April 2014, with respect to which the Inter-American Commission expressed deep concern (IACHR Expresses Deep Concern over Agonizing Death of Clayton Lockett in Death Chamber in the United States). The IACHR reminds the United States of its international obligation to ensure that persons under its jurisdiction are not subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

The failure of a Member State of the Organization of American States to fulfill a request that it preserve a condemned prisoner's life pending review of his or her petition seriously contravenes its international legal obligations. This failure has in the past deprived condemned persons in the United States of their right to petition before the inter-American human rights system prior to the execution of the death penalty.

The Commission urges the United States to implement the precautionary measures granted on Charles Warner’s behalf until the IACHR can issue a decision on the case, and to fully and properly respect its international human rights obligations, especially those derived from the American Declaration and the OAS Charter. In this regard, the IACHR calls upon the state of Oklahoma to suspend this execution.

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 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. 004/15