An act of barbarism: killing Troy Davis

 “His guilt or innocence doesn't matter. No one should be incarcerated for 33 years in the shadow of the execution chamber. It is an act of barbarism to keep any man in those conditions.”

 I could easily have written it myself, but this is actually Marcel Berlins in the Guardian today.  And, guess which country he was talking about. Yes, the United States. Not the biggest executor of people in the world but certainly right up there. And – to keep this guessing game going – guess which state of the 37 “death penalty states” in the USA he was referring to. Well, it’s Georgia. Specifically the case of Jack Alderman, executed last week. 

For me this is eerie because the same state is set to plunge ahead with another controversial execution tomorrow night. At 7pm Georgia time (12 midnight in the UK) the very same lethal injection chamber that killed Alderman last Tuesday (it took 14 minutes for him to die, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) is gearing up to kill Troy Davis (subject of a recent post) a week later.  

No-one should face execution – whether guilty or innocent, mass killer or person facing death for a non-lethal crime – but when there are serious doubts about a person’s guilt you really have to wonder what the hell is going on.

For more on this and the details of Davis’ case, read Amnesty director Kate Allen on Open House this weekend.  

But suffice to say – as in Davis’ case – when there’s no physical evidence linking the condemned person to the crime, and when key witnesses recant their evidence one after the other (including one who couldn’t even read his police witness statement because he was functionally illiterate), then even the most vehement hang-‘em-and-flog-‘em types must be having second thoughts.

I’m told that already Amnesty’s appeals to Georgia’s Board of Pardons and Paroles have been going over to the states in their thousands.

Please send one as soon as you read this blog post. It could actually save Troy Davis’ life.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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