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USA: Death penalty

, N° d'index: AMR 51/044/1999

Charles Rector, Jeff Doughtie, Robert White and David Gibbs are scheduled to be executed in Texas on 25 March, 25 March, 30 March and 13 April respectively. Amnesty International calls upon business delegates attending an international business conference - EUROTEX in Texas on 15 April to use their influence to protect human rights.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 51/44/99
EXTRA 38/99 Death Penalty 11 March 1999
USA (Texas) Charles RECTOR
Robert WHITE
David Earl GIBBS
The relentless conveyor belt of death continues in Texas, with four more
prisoners convicted of capital murder facing execution in the next month.
Charles Rector, Jeff Doughtie, Robert White and David Gibbs are scheduled to
be killed on 25 March, 25 March, 30 March and 13 April respectively.
On 15 April, two days after the last of these men is due to be put to death,
a two-day international business conference - EUROTEX - begins in Texas, which
aims to build relationships between European and Texan companies involved in
information technology. The promotional material claims that “the two-day event
will provide an opportunity to...showcase the State of Texas as a global high
tech center.”
Amnesty International believes that EUROTEX participants should be aware that
Texas is also a global death penalty centre. Since 1982, 171 inmates have
been taken from their cells in Ellis Unit 1, Huntsville, and killed by the
“high-tech” method of lethal injection. Seven have been executed so far in
1999. Over 440 other prisoners are on death row in Texas, including another
four men scheduled to die between 28 April and 19 May.
Amnesty International does not advocate boycotts or disinvestment, nor does
it criticize companies engaged in legitimate business in any country. However,
it believes that companies have a responsibility to use their influence to
protect human rights. Companies should be aware of the human rights situation
in countries they do business with.
Not only does Texas execute more prisoners than any other US state, more indeed
than most countries, but it also does so with a sometimes appalling disregard
for international minimum standards governing the death penalty. Texas
continues to use the death penalty against juvenile offenders, in violation
of international law which bans its use against those who were under 18 at
the time of the crime. Some 24 inmates now on the state’s death row were convicted
of crimes committed when they were aged 17. Since 1990, Texas has executed
five such prisoners, more than any other jurisdiction in the world, as far
as Amnesty International knows. There are plans to lower the minimum age at
which a defendant in Texas may face the death penalty to 16. Also in contravention
of international standards, mentally ill and mentally retarded people have
been sentenced to death and executed.
The European Commission and the European Union (EU) will be represented at
EUROTEX. The June 1998 Guidelines to EU Policy towards third countries on the
death penalty state that the EU’s objective,“where possible, is to persuade
third countries to abolish the death penalty...and [the EU] will raise the
issue in multilateral fora...and encourage and offer bilateral and multilateral
cooperation, inter alia in collaboration with civil society...” Also in 1998,
the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the death penalty which, among
other measures, called on the European Commission and the Council of Europe
to “promote the abolition of the death penalty through their relations with
third countries...”.
Amnesty International believes that the death penalty has no place in modern
society, a fact reflected by its abolition in law or practice in more than
half the world’s countries. However, the USA - which claims to be the most
progressive force for human rights in the world - has increased its use of
the death penalty in recent years.
Those sentenced to death in the USA, including the four men named above, have
been convicted of heinous crimes. However, by calling for them not to be killed,
Amnesty International does not seek to excuse those crimes. Rather, it believes
that every death sentence is an affront to human dignity, and that every
execution, with its message that killing is an appropriate response to killing,
compounds the violence in society.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send faxes/express/airmail letters in English or
your own language:
To Governor Bush:
- expressing sympathy for the victims of crime and their relatives;
- expressing deep concern at the continuing use of the death penalty in Texas,
and urging that he commute the death sentences against Charles Rector, Jeff
Doughtie, Robert White and David Gibbs and all other death sentences that come
before him;
- urging that he play a leadership role in bringing about abolition in Texas
and the USA.
To Sir Leon Brittan and Mr Hugo Paemen:
Copy them your appeal to Governor Bush, and in a covering letter to them:
- explain your concern over the use of the death penalty in Texas;
- noting the European Parliament resolution and European Union guidelines,
and noting the addressees’ presence at the EUROTEX meeting;
- urging Sir Leon Brittan and Ambassador Paemen to appeal to Governor Bush
to commute the sentences of Charles Rector, Jeff Doughtie, Robert White and
David Gibbs, and to stop all executions in Texas with a view to abolition;
- urging the addressees to bring to the attention of EUROTEX participants the
worldwide concern about the death penalty in Texas, including its use against
juvenile offenders and the mentally impaired.
APPEALS TO: (please limit appeals to 50 per Section)
The Honourable George Bush (addressing EUROTEX on 15 April).
PO Box 12428, Austin,
TX 78711, USA
Fax: +1 512 463 1849
Salutation: Dear Governor
Sir Leon BRITTAN (addressing EUROTEX on 15 April)
Vice President
European Commission
Rue de la Loi 200
B-1049 Bruxelles, Belgium
Fax: +32 2 295 0138; +32 2 295 0139
Salutation: Dear Sir Leon
Mr Hugo PAEMEN (addressing EUROTEX on 16 April)
Head of Delegation
Delegation of the European Union
2300 M Street, 3rd floor, NW
DC 20037 Washington, USA
Fax: +1 202 429 1766
Salutation: Dear Mr Paemen
- Dallas Morning News, PO Box 655237, Dallas, TX 75265, USA
Fax: +1 972 263 0456. E-mail: letterstoeditor@dallasnews.com
- Houston Chronicle, 801 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002, USA.
Fax: +1 713 220 6677
and to diplomatic representatives of the USA accredited to your country.
You may also write letters to the editors of newspapers in your country,
explaining this action and enclosing a copy of your appeal. Any coverage should
be copied to Governor Bush and your UA Coordinator.

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