PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 51/084/2002
30 May 2002
Further information on EXTRA 36/02 (AMR 51/069/2002, 3 May 2002) - Death penalty
/ Legal concern
USA (Texas)Napoleon Beazley (m), black, aged 25
Napoleon Beazley was executed in Texas on 28 May 2002 for a murder committed
when he was 17 years old. International law prohibits the execution of those
who were under 18 at the time of the crime.
In a final written statement, Napoleon Beazley wrote: “The act I committed
to put me here was not just heinous, it was senseless. But the person that
committed that act is no longer here - I am. I’m sorry that John Luttig died.
And I’m sorry that it was something in me that caused all of this to happen
to begin with. Tonight we tell the world that there are no second chances
in the eyes of justice. Tonight, we tell our children that in some instances,
in some cases, killing is right... No one wins tonight. No one gets closure.
No one walks away victorious”.
A few hours before the execution, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP)
announced that they had voted 10-7 against clemency. Governor Rick Perry
refused to intervene, stating: “To delay his punishment would be to delay
It is believed that tens of thousands of people in the USA and around the world
appealed to the Texas authorities to spare Napoleon Beazley’s life. A single
website in a Swedish national newspaper, for example, raised more than 13,000
appeals for commutation in an online petition, which Amnesty International
Sweden then arranged to be handed over to the BPP. Among the individuals who
have appealed for clemency in this case are the District Attorney from Napoleon
Beazley’s home county, a former warden of Texas death row, and the judge who
oversaw Napoleon Beazley’s trial.
US organizations which appealed for clemency included the American Bar
Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Society for
Adolescent Psychiatry, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the Child
Welfare League of America, the Children’s Defense Fund, The Constitution
Project, the Juvenile Law Center, the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People, the National Urban League, and the Youth Law Center.
Internationally, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the European
Union, the Council of Europe, the Swiss and Mexican governments, the Law Society
of England and Wales, and the Canadian Bar Association are among those to have
called for the execution to be halted.
Six Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa
called for clemency. In a six-page letter to the BPP, Archbishop Tutu wrote:
“I am astounded that Texas and a few other states in the United States take
children from their families and execute them...The State forces the innocent
family to atone for the death of the victim by causing it unbearable grief...As
a pastor, I ask this Board to join in the world unity protecting the rights
of children... Spare the child. Spare the family. Spare the community. Spare
us all the degradation of the death of another child offender, when by opening
the hope of a future for him and his family, you give hope to us all... I humbly