Press Release

The IACHR celebrates Gov. of Oklahoma's decision to commute the death penalty of Julius Jones, in the United States

November 19, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) celebrates the decision of the Governor of Oklahoma to commute the death penalty of precautionary measures beneficiary Julius Jones, in the United States. According to official reports, the commutation of Julius Jones' death penalty came just hours before the execution was scheduled, on November 18, at 4:00 p.m.

The Governor's decision came hours before the beneficiary's scheduled execution of the death penalty, commuting the death sentence of Julius Jones and indicating that the beneficiary "shall not be eligible to apply for or to be considered for a commutation, pardon, or parole for the remainder of his life."

The Commission acknowledged that, with a recent decision from the Supreme Court of the United States, which vacated an order to stay the death penalty of the beneficiary by a Federal Court of Appeals, the beneficiary did not have any available remedies at the domestic level. In this sense, after the Pardon and Parole Board recommended twice that the death penalty of the beneficiary be commuted, the most recent on November 1, 2021, the beneficiary's last available resource was for the Governor to accept the recommendation and commute the death penalty.

On November 17, 2021, the IACHR approved Resolution 90/2021, granting a last-minute precautionary measure in favor of Julius Jones –received the previous day– in the belief that he faced a serious and urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to his rights in the United States. This precautionary measure is linked to Petition 2029-21.

The application stated that Julius Jones was tried and convicted in a murder case without effective counsel, lacking compelling evidence against him, and based on racial bias in the jury and in the courts system. The petition filed with the IACHR's cases and petitions system alleged violations of the provisions from different articles of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man regarding Julius Jones' right to a fair trial, due process of law and equality before the law.

Additionally, the information provided by the applicants presented serious concerns on the method of execution of the death penalty in the state of Oklahoma. This method consists of a lethal injection with different drugs, including Midazolam, which causes individuals unnecessary suffering that could constitute cruel and inhumane treatment.

The IACHR will continue to analyze any alleged violations to the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man in the framework of Petition 2029-21, under the applicable regulations currently in force within the Petitions and Cases System.

The IACHR wishes to remind its recommendations in The Death Penalty and the Inter-American Human Rights System: From Restrictions to Abolition, a report which seeks to abolish the death penalty or, otherwise, to implement moratoriums on executions as a step toward gradual abolition. This recommendation was also reiterated by the Commission on October 9, 2020 and on March 24,2021.

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. 310/21

1:30 PM