Nº 11/01       

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urges the United States to call off the June 19, 2001 execution of federal death row inmate Juan Raúl Garza and thereby respect the Commission’s finding that the United States violated its international human rights obligations in sentencing Mr. Garza to the death penalty. 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is the principal human rights organ of the Organization of American States (OAS). The United States, as a member state of the OAS, is subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction to consider petitions that allege violations by the United States of an individual’s rights under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The American Declaration prescribes the basic human rights that all OAS member States must guarantee to persons under their authority or control, including the right to life, the right to a fair trial, and the right to due process. 

In a final report adopted by the Commission on April 4, 2001, the Commission found that Mr. Garza was sentenced to death based in part upon crimes alleged to have been committed in the Republic of Mexico, but for which Mr. Garza had never been charged, tried or convicted. Moreover, as those alleged crimes did not occur within the jurisdiction of the United States as prescribed under applicable U.S. federal law, they could not have been prosecuted by the United States. The Commission concluded that condemning Mr. Garza to death based upon allegations of this nature was “antithetical to the most basic and fundamental judicial guarantees applicable in attributing responsibility and punishment to individuals for crimes.” Consequently, the Commission found the United States responsible for violating Mr. Garza’s right to life, liberty and personal security, to a fair trial and to due process of law under Articles I, XVIII and XXVI of the American Declaration. Based upon its findings, the Commission recommended that the United States provide Mr. Garza with an effective remedy, which included commutation of his death sentence. The Commission’s report can be found at  

Despite the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations, the Commission understands that the United States has scheduled Mr. Garza’s execution to take place on June 19, 2001. The Commission is gravely concerned by this development. As the Commission indicated in its report, the United States will perpetrate a deliberate and irreparable violation of the right to life under Article I of the American Declaration, should it proceed with Mr. Garza’s execution based upon his flawed criminal proceedings. Accordingly, in a communication issued on June 14, 2001 during its 112th special period of sessions, the Commission reiterated its request that the United States comply with its most fundamental international human rights obligations by commuting Mr. Garza’s death sentence. In a response dated June 15, 2001, the United States indicated that it disagreed with the Commission’s conclusions in Mr. Garza’s case and considered Mr. Garza’s complaint to be “manifestly groundless.” The Commission cannot accept the State’s position and once again calls upon the United States to respect its human rights obligations by staying Mr. Garza’s execution and commuting his death sentence.


Washington, D.C. June 15, 2001