Press Release

IACHR Urges United States to Comply with Recommendations on Death Penalty Case

April 1, 2016

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the United States to comply with the recommendations in the Merits Report on the case of Ivan Teleguz, who has been sentenced to the death penalty in the state of Virginia.

Ivan Teleguz is the beneficiary of precautionary measures adopted by the Inter-American Commission under Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure. 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. 

On July 15, 2013, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued its Merits Report No. 53/13 on Case No. 12.864, in which it concluded that the United States is responsible for the violation of the right to life, liberty and personal security, right to a fair trial, right of petition, right of protection from arbitrary arrest and right to due process of law guaranteed in the American Declaration, with respect to Ivan Teleguz. In accordance with its finding, the IACHR established that should the State carry out the execution of Ivan Teleguz, it would be committing a serious and irreparable violation of the basic right to life enshrined in Article I of the American Declaration.

In its Merits Report, the IACHR recommended the United States to adopt a moratorium on executions of persons sentenced to death, to refrain from executing Ivan Teleguz, and to grant him an effective relieve that includes a review of his trial in accordance with the guarantees of due process and a fair trial, as established in the American Declaration. The IACHR urges the United States to fully and properly respect its international human rights obligations, especially those derived from the American Declaration and the OAS Charter.

Additionally, the Commission reiterates the recommendations related to structural changes that the United States needs to implement to guarantee the right to life including the recommendation to review its laws, procedures and practices to ensure that people accused of capital crimes are tried and, if convicted, sentenced in accordance with the rights established in the American Declaration, to ensure that every foreign national deprived of his or her liberty is informed, without delay and prior to his or her first statement, of his or her right to consular assistance and to request that the diplomatic authorities be immediately notified of his or her arrest or detention; and to push for urgent passage of the bill for the “Consular Notification Compliance Act” (“CNCA”), which has been pending with the United States Congress since 2011.

The Inter-American Commission must remind the State that carrying out a death sentence would not only cause irreparable harm to the person, but it would also mean that the State is not in compliance with the recommendations of the IACHR, and that such a measure is contrary to the fundamental human rights obligations of an OAS member state pursuant to the Charter of the Organization and the instruments deriving from it.

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. 045/16