Thursday, July 24, 2008

Senator Ellis Joins Call for Governor Perry to Stay Execution and Protect Texans Abroad

Last week, we wrote an article "Governor Perry Endangers Americans Abroad" saying that Perry should issue a stay of execution for Jose Medellin because executing him after the World Court demanded a stay "would endanger Americans traveling abroad who are arrested in another country and want to consult with the U.S. consulate, as is their right under the treaty signed by the United States. The United States must abide by the international agreements it signs, if it does not, then it loses power to protect its national interests or, in this case, to protect Americans who are detained in other countries."

Today, Senator Ellis co-authored an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle saying Perry

would do well to consider how defiance of the World Court ruling will affect the safety of Americans abroad who rely on the same treaty protections that Texas violated in these cases. Gov. Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles should concur with the World Court and order a reprieve of the executions until those convictions are reviewed and reconsidered.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Perry can order a temporary reprieve of execution while the Texas Legislature produces legislation allowing review and reconsideration of the convictions. Such legislation is already before the U.S. Congress. In our great democracy, passing such laws cannot be done without full debate and consideration. Given the issues at stake for all Americans, it is only right that Congress and the Texas Legislature be given the opportunity to ensure our nation lives up to the promises it made to its treaty partners.

By granting a reprieve, Gov. Perry and the Board of Pardons will enhance the reputation of Texas and the United States throughout the world.
Back during the last session of the legislature, Ellis was the only senator to vote against Jessica's Law because it expanded the death penalty to people who had not killed. He was vindicated when the Supreme Court ruled that part of Jessica's Law was unconstitutional. Now, he is speaking out again on a death penalty issue and so far he is again the only senator to do so.

It would be nice if the senator from Austin, Kirk Watson, would follow Ellis' lead and also speak out on human rights issues. Austin's senator should be a reliable leader on progressive issues, including Texas' broken death penalty system. Right now, Watson is neither a leader or a follower on the issue of human rights and the death penalty. He is invisible. As a progressive voter in Watson's district, I do not want my senator to be invisible and silent. I want him to stand up alongside Senator Ellis against Rick Perry.

At least Texas has Senator Ellis, but it is a shame that Ellis often has to stand alone. Perry would be more likely to listen to Ellis if all the Democrats in the Senate would also urge Perry to stay Medellin's execution and protect Texans abroad.

According to the International Justice Project Medellin told the police he was not a U.S. citizen:
Upon his arrest on June 29, 1993, Medellin informed the arresting officers he was born in Laredo, Mexico. He also notified Pre-trial Services for Harris County that he was not a United States citizen. Despite this, Medellin was never advised of his right to contact and seek the assistance of Mexican consular officials. As a result, Mexican consular officials were deprived of any opportunity to assist him before and during his trial.
The police did not allow him to contact the Mexican consulate or tell him that he had a right to do so. Manuel Perez Cardenas, the Consul General of Mexico in Houston, said in an affidavit that Mexico would have provided immediate assistance if consular officers had been informed of his detention.

We are not hoping that Medellin is released. People like me are hoping that his sentence is reviewed. Texas now has the option of sentencing people to Life Without Parole. That is an option that did not exist at the time of Medellin's trial. Life Without Parole is a more appropriate sentence for Medellin, especially given the fact that he did not have the assistance of the Mexican consulate before or at his original trial, as was his right under a treaty signed by the U.S.

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