Press Release

IACHR Condemns Execution of Leal García in the United States

July 8, 2011

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the judicial execution by the United States of Humberto Leal García, that took place on July 7, 2011, in Texas, in defiance of the precautionary measures the IACHR granted in his favor and without having complied with the recommendations issued by the Commission in the Merits Report on his case.

In 2008 the Inter-American Commission issued Report No. 45/08, in which it found the United States responsible for violations of the rights to equality, fair trial and due process of Humberto García Leal and others under Articles I, XVIII, and XXVI of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man in connection with the criminal proceedings that led to the imposition of the death penalty.

The IACHR determined, among other aspects, that the fact that the State had not met its obligation, under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, to inform the victims of their right to notification with respect to consular assistance meant that the criminal proceedings against them did not meet the minimum standards of due process and a fair trial established in Articles XVIII and XXVI of the American Declaration. The Commission concluded that if the State executed them based on those proceedings, it would be committing an irreparable violation of the fundamental right to life, protected in Article I of the American Declaration. Consequently, the IACHR recommended that the State, among other things, suspend the death sentence imposed on Leal García and the other victims in the case, and hold a new trial in accordance with the protections prescribed in the American Declaration—equality before the law, due process, and a fair trial, including the right to competent legal representation.

After the execution of Leal García was scheduled for July 7, 2011, the Inter-American Commission reiterated its request that the government of the United States stay the execution until a process could be established to arrange for a review of his case.

The Commission deplores the failure on the part of the United States to recognize its requests that the government respect the life of Humberto Leal García. The Commission urges the United States to implement the precautionary measures granted and the recommendations issued in its reports, and reiterates that the Government is obligated to fully and properly respect its international human rights obligations set forth in the American Declaration.

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 matter. 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. 67/11