Saturday, August 25, 2007

Human Rights: Our Loss of Standing

There was a time when the US could lead on human rights issues. The rest of the world would, at the very least, listen politely. Those days are gone. Now, we find ourselves in the position of having to listen to other nations urging us to clean up our act. The latest bit of urging came from the European Union, whose August 21, 2007 declaration was published in the Netherlands' Nieuwsbank.

The European Union notes with great regret the upcoming execution in the State of Texas which would be the 400th since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. Therefore, the European Union strongly urges Governor Rick Perry to exercise all powers vested in his office to halt all upcoming executions and to consider the introduction of a moratorium in the State of Texas.

The European Union is unreservedly opposed to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances and has consistently called for the universal abolition of this punishment. We believe that elimination of the death penalty is fundamental to the protection of human dignity, and to the progressive development of human rights. We further consider this punishment to be cruel and inhumane. There is no evidence to suggest that the use of the death penalty serves as a deterrent against violent crime and the irreversibility of the punishment means that miscarriages of justice - which are inevitable in all legal systems - cannot be redressed. Consequently, the death penalty has been abolished throughout the European Union. ...

The EU appreciates and values its co-operation with the US on a wide range of human rights concerns around the world. The European Union therefore takes this opportunity to renew its call for a moratorium to be placed on the application of the death penalty, by both the US federal and state authorities, in anticipation of its legal abolition.
[Emphasis added]

The response from Texas Governor Rick Perry's office was swift.

"Texans long ago decided the death penalty is a just and appropriate punishment for the most horrible crimes committed against our citizens.

"While we respect our friends in Europe ... Texans are doing just fine governing Texas."

Since the US Supreme Court lifted the ban on capital punishment some thirty years ago, over a thousand people have been executed. More than a third of those executions were in Texas.

What is it about some Texas governors and former Texas governors when it comes to killing people?



Anonymous Nora said...

Wow. Could the governor be any more snide in his response to a genuine human rights concern? Not even addressing the problem of wrongful convictions (and, remembering Bush's days as governor and the deep review he gave of every request for clemency, I'm sure there are plenty of questions about the fairness of the trial and sentencing process in Texas), just a lot of swaggering.


11:05 AM  

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