Document - Belize: Death Penalty, Michael Anthony Hendrix ("Steven Smith")

PUBLICAI Index: AMR 16/001/2001


UA 277/01Death Penalty1 November 2001


BELIZEMichael Anthony Hendrix ("Steven Smith")



Michael Anthony Hendrix, also known as Steven Smith, was sentenced to death on 25 October. If his execution is carried out, it would be the first in Belize since 1985.


Hendrix was found guilty of the July 2000 murder of 22-year-old Richard Cattouse. He is currently held in Hattieville Prison. Hendrix is in his mid-twenties (24 or 26 according to press reports) and is the father of two children.


His lawyers are reportedly planning to appeal. If the appeal court ratifies the sentence, his lawyers could submit a final appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, based in London.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Death by hanging is mandatory for murder in Belize, except where extenuating circumstances can be proved. The prerogative of mercy lies with the Governor General, who is advised by the 10-person Belize Advisory Council. The last execution was carried out in June 1985, when Kent Bowers was hanged despite a petition for clemency reportedly signed by 2,500 people. Since 1985 numerous death sentences have been handed down, though none have been carried out.


RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:

- acknowledging that Michael Anthony Hendrix was convicted of a very serious crime, and expressing sympathy for the family and friends of Richard Cattouse;

- welcoming the fact that no executions have been carried out in Belize for more than 15 years, and stressing that the resumption of executions would be a retrograde step in the protection of human rights for all Belize’s citizens;

-calling for clemency and urging that Michael Anthony Hendrix’s death sentence be commuted in the name of compassion and human rights, pointing out that the death penalty has never been shown to deter crime more effectively than other punishments;

- expressing unconditional opposition to the death penalty in all cases as a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment;

- urging that all other pending death sentences be commuted and that no further sentences be passed.


If possible please also:

- state that executions are becoming increasingly rare around the world, with most countries having abandoned the death penalty;

- note that only a few nations, for example the USA, Iran, Iraq and Trinidad and Tobago are increasing their use of the death penalty or have high numbers of executions;

- point out that extensive research has shown that the death penalty is used predominately against the poor, ethnic minorities and disadvantaged groups, particularly in the USA.


APPEALS TO:


Governor-General:

H. E. Sir. Colville Young

Office of the Governor-General

Belize House

Belmopan, BELIZE

Fax: + 501 8 22050

Salutation:Your Excellency


Prime Minister

Rt. Hon. Said Musa

Office of the Prime Minister

New Administrative Bldg

Belmopan, BELIZE

Fax: + 501 8 20071

e-mail: access@btl.net (mark for the attention of the Prime Minister)

Salutation: Dear Prime Minister


Attorney General and Minister of Information:

Mr. Godfrey Smith

Attorney General’s Chambers

c/o Prime Minister’s Office

New Administration Building

Belmopan, BELIZE

Fax: + 501 8 20071

Salutation:Dear Attorney General


COPIES TO:


Human Rights Commission of Belize

37 Garza Avenue

Belmopan, Belize

Tel/fax: + 501 8 22779


and to diplomatic representatives of Belize accredited to your country.


You may also write to:


Audrey Matura Tillett

Editor, The Guardian

Fax: + 501 2-75343

Email: guardian@btl.net


Lisbeth Lawrence

Features Editor, The Reporter

West Street

Belize City

Belize

Fax: + 501 2 78278

e-mail: report@btl.net


Amandala Press

3304 Partridge St.

PO Box 15

Belize City, Belize

Fax: + 501 2 24702

Email: amandala@btl.net


Andrew Steinhauer

Editor, The Belize Times

PO Box 506

3, Queen St.

Belize City, Belize

Fax: + 501 2 31940

e-mail:editor@belizetimes.com


PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after

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