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USA [Texas]: Further information on death penalty / Legal concern - Napoleon Beazley

, Index number: AMR 51/084/2002

Napoleon Beazley (m), black, aged 25 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.

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
plead with you to spare the life of Napoleon Beazley, the integrity of his
family, and the hope of his community for a more just society”.
One of the seven Board members who voted for clemency, when told of the execution,
said: “I’m really apprehensive that this is a day we’re going to be sorry about
for a long time. I just feel like something really wrong has happened."
Napoleon Beazley becomes the 10th child offender to be executed in the USA
since 1995. Six of them were killed in Texas. In the same period, seven child
offenders were reported to have been executed in the rest of the world combined,
three in Iran, two in Pakistan, one in Democratic Republic of Congo, and one
in Nigeria. Last year, President Musharraf of Pakistan announced that he would
commute the death sentences of all child offenders in Pakistan.
Napoleon Beazley was the 30
person to be executed in the USA this year, and
the 779
since judicial killing resumed there in 1977. Texas accounts for 270
of these executions.
Napoleon Beazley’s lawyer had appealed for a stay of execution -- in the courts
and to the Governor of Texas -- pending an imminent ruling by the US Supreme
Court on whether "standards of decency" in the USA have evolved to the extent
that executing people with mental retardation is now unconstitutional. If the
Court rules that such a national consensus has emerged, it could undermine
its 1989 decision allowing child offenders to be put to death and lead to a
ruling that a national consensus also exists against the execution of child
Shortly before Napoleon Beazley was killed, the Missouri Supreme Court stayed
the execution of Christopher Simmons, which had been set for next week. Simmons,
like Beazley, was sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was 17.
The Missouri court issued the stay pending the Supreme Court decision on the
mental retardation issue, on the same argument raised by Napoleon Beazley's
lawyer. The Missouri Supreme Court evidently believes there is merit to the
argument, whereas the Texas courts and governor refused to countenance a delay
in Napoleon Beazley’s execution. It was a brutally stark reminder of the
arbitrariness of the death penalty.
Those who wish may send a letter protesting Governor Perry’s failure to intervene
to stop this internationally illegal execution.
Governor Rick Perry
c/o Bill Jones, General Counsel
PO Box 12428, Austin, Texas 78711
Fax + 1 512 463 1932 (General Counsel's Fax), or 463 1849 (Governor’s fax)
Salutation: Dear Governor
For more information, see Too young to vote, old enough to be executed, AMR
51/105/2001, July 2001; Hypocrisy or human rights? Time to choose, AMR
51/075/2002, 15 May 2002; and Killing hope, confirming hypocrisy - Texas
executes another child offender, AMR 51/082/2002, 29 May 2002.
Many thanks to all who have sent appeals on behalf of Napoleon Beazley.

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