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

February 22, 2022

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Resolution 10/2022

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Washington, D.C.- On February 18, 2022, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 10/2022, in which it granted precautionary measures in favor of Melissa Lucio, 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 finds herself in a situation of serious and urgent risk of irreparable harm to her rights.

The applicants stated that the District Court set the date of Lucio's execution in Texas, where she has been held in solitary confinement on death row for 14 years, to April 27, 2022. The applicants indicated that Ms. Lucio's prolonged solitary confinement has irreparably harmed her physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. Moreover, the applicants have informed that she has limited cognitive abilities, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, aspects that made her even more vulnerable to acute trauma inherent in solitary confinement under sentence of death. 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 regarding her rights to access to justice, due process, and a proper defense. Additionally, they claim that she was not adequately represented during the trial and that the trial court excluded the testimony of two critical witnesses, who would have presented evidence essential to Ms. Lucio's defense. The State refrained from presenting substantive information regarding Lucio's situation and informed that had forwarded the request for information to the Attorney General of the State of Texas.

In the resolution, the Commission considered that the rights of Melissa Lucio are at risk due to the imminent execution of the death penalty and its subsequent effects on her petition which is currently under the Commission's analysis; as well as her ongoing conditions of detention in solitary confinement on death row and their impact on her rights to life and personal integrity.

Consequently, the Commission requests the United States of America: to adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and personal integrity of Melissa Lucio; to refrain from carrying out the death penalty until the IACHR has had the opportunity to reach a decision on her petition; to ensure that her detention conditions are consistent with international standards, giving special consideration to her personal conditions; and to 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. 036/22

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