Press Release

IACHR adopts precautionary measures in favor of woman on death row in the United States of America

December 2, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - On December 1, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 91/2020, whereby it granted precautionary measures to Ms. Lisa Montgomery, who is currently on death row in Texas, in the United States of America, allegedly under conditions of confinement that are incompatible with international human rights standards. The IACHR considered that she is in a situation of serious and urgent risk of irreparable harm to her rights.

The applicants stated that the beneficiary has a mental illness and, therefore, the State should not proceed with her execution. The applicants also filed a petition alleging violations of different articles of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, particularly with regard to Ms. Montgomery’s access to justice, due process, and a proper defense, as they claim she was not adequately represented to avoid the death penalty. The State informed the Commission of different remedies filed domestically in favor of the beneficiary.

Upon analyzing the submissions of fact and law by each party, and considering the beneficiary’s current conditions of confinement combined with the possibility that her execution may take place on January 12, 2020 (the initial date was rescheduled on two occasions), which would prevent the IACHR from being able to provide a decision on the merits of the petition, the Commission found that the situation of the beneficiary meets the requirements of seriousness, urgency and irreparable harm set forth in Article 25 of the Rules of Procedure, in both the precautionary and protective nature of the precautionary measures mechanism.

Consequently, in accordance with Article 25 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure, the Commission requested that the United States of America adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and right to humane treatment of Ms. Lisa Montgomery, and to refrain from carrying out the death penalty on Lisa Montgomery until the IACHR has had the opportunity to reach a decision on her petition. Furthermore, the IACHR requested that the State guarantee detention conditions that are compatible with international standards, with special consideration to her personal conditions; to provide appropriate medical attention for her physical or mental health conditions, in accordance with international human rights applicable standards; and, lastly, to adopt the measures in question in consultation with the beneficiary and her representatives.

The granting of this precautionary measure and its adoption by the State does not constitute the prejudgment of the petition presented by the applicants before the IACHR or any other petition that may eventually be presented before the inter-American system alleging violations of the rights protected in the American Declaration 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 respect for and to defend 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. 288/20