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.
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.
H. E. Sir. Colville Young
Office of the Governor-General
Fax: + 501 8 22050
Rt. Hon. Said Musa
Office of the Prime Minister
New Administrative Bldg
Fax: + 501 8 20071
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (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
Fax: + 501 8 20071
Salutation:Dear Attorney General
Human Rights Commission of Belize
37 Garza Avenue
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
Features Editor, The Reporter
Fax: + 501 2 78278
3304 Partridge St.
PO Box 15
Belize City, Belize
Fax: + 501 2 24702
Editor, The Belize Times
PO Box 506
3, Queen St.
Belize City, Belize
Fax: + 501 2 31940
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after