Press Release

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

December 17, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - On December 11, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 95/2020, in which it granted precautionary measures in favor of Christa Pike, who is currently on death row in Tennessee, in the United States of America, allegedly under conditions of confinement that are incompatible with international human rights standards. The IACHR considered that she finds herself in a situation of serious and urgent risk of irreparable harm to her rights.

The applicants stated that Ms. Pike is currently facing the risk of imminent execution in Tennessee, where she has been held in solitary confinement on death row for 23 years. The applicants emphasized that, as the only woman on death row in Tennessee, the beneficiary’s solitary confinement stems from an institutional policy of applied gender discrimination, noting that men on death row are housed together, outside of solitary confinement. The applicants also filed a petition in which they allege violations of various articles of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, particularly with regards to Ms. Pike’s rights to access to justice, due process and a proper defense, claiming that she was not adequately represented during the trial and sentencing process. The State informed that Ms. Pike’s execution date has not yet been set; that her mental health was taken into consideration as a mitigating factor by the jury that sentenced her to death; and, that she has failed to exhaust domestic remedies.

Having analyzed the submissions of fact and law presented by the parties, the Commission considers that the information submitted demonstrates prima facie that there is a serious and urgent risk of irreparable harm to Ms. Pike’s rights to life and personal integrity in accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure. Moreover, in the event that Ms. Pike is executed before the Commission has the opportunity to examine the merits of her petition, any eventual decision would be rendered moot, leading to irreparable harm. Consequently, the Commission requests that the United States of America: a) adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and personal integrity of Christa Pike; b) refrain from carrying out the death penalty on Christa Pike; c) ensure that Christa Pike’s detention conditions are consistent with international standards, giving special consideration to her personal conditions; and, d) agree on the measures to be adopted with the beneficiary and her representatives.

The granting of this precautionary measure and its adoption by the State does not constitute the prejudgment of any petition that may eventually be presented before the inter-American system alleging violations of the rights protected in the American Convention 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. 306/20