Press Release

IACHR Condemns Execution of Edgar Tamayo Arias in the United States

January 27, 2014

Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the judicial execution of Edgar Tamayo Arias, which took place on January 22, 2014, in Texas, United States, in violation of his fundamental rights.

In January 2012 a petition alleging the violation of the American Declaration and a request for precautionary measures were filed on Mr. Tamayo’s behalf. The IACHR granted precautionary measures asking the United States to refrain from carrying out the death penalty until the Commission had the opportunity to issue a decision on the petitioner's claims. On July 17, 2012, the IACHR decided the case was admissible.

After analyzing the merits of the case, on January 15, 2014, the Inter-American Commission adopted Report No. 1/14 in which it concluded, among other findings, that the State’s failure to respect its obligation under Article 36.1 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to inform Mr. Tamayo of his right to consular notification and assistance deprived him of a criminal process that satisfied the minimum standards of due process and a fair trial required under the American Declaration. Accordingly, the Commission recommended that the United States review Mr. Tamayo’s trial and sentence in accordance with the guarantees recognized in the American Declaration. Despite the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations, the government of Texas proceeded to execute Mr. Tamayo as scheduled.

The Inter-American Commission deplores the failure on the part of the United States and the state of Texas to comply with the recommendations issued by the IACHR in a merits report. The failure of the United States to preserve Mr. Tamayo's life pending a recommendation by the IACHR to review his trial and sentence contravenes its international legal obligations derived from the Charter of the Organization of American States and the American Declaration which are in force since the United States joined the OAS in 1951. This failure to comply with the Commission’s recommendations resulted in serious and irreparable harm to Mr. Tamayo’s most fundamental right, the right to life.

The Inter-American Commission has dealt with the death penalty as a crucial human rights challenge for decades. While a majority of the member States of the Organization of American States has abolished capital punishment, a substantial minority retains it. In this regard, the Commission notes that the United States is currently the only country in the Western hemisphere to carry out executions.

The Commission reiterates the recommendation made in its report “The Death Penalty in the Inter-American Human Rights System: From Restrictions to Abolition” published in 2012, that States impose a moratorium on executions as a step toward the gradual disappearance of this penalty.

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 a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 6/14