Kenneth Foster is the wrong man

Its the nightmare that weve all imagined: youre accused of a crime that you didnt commit and no matter what you say youre found guilty by the authorities.

Its the classic Kafka situation - Joseph K in The Trial hauled before the sinister, bureaucratic authorities to defend himself. Or Henry Fonda in Hitchcocks The Wrong Man (film tag line: The police were convinced... The witnesses were positive ...Yet he was... THE WRONG MAN).

But it really happens. Look at the figures from the USA: over 120 prisoners released from death row in the last 30 years after it was shown that theyd been wrongly convicted.

Now theres a new twist. Tonight (at about midnight) Texas is set to execute a man who definitely didnt commit the crime.

 

This man is Kenneth Foster, a 30-year-old Afro-American who is facing death by lethal injection for a murder actually carried out by another man in 1996.

Read about the case here - but the point is that a man is set to die for a crime that he didnt commit (he was actually sitting in a car 30 metres away when someone else killed a man) and it seems that only appeals to the Texan pardon board or the state governor can save him.

The hard-boiled Texan authorities can do this because of a controversial state law that makes an associate of a perpetrator co-responsible - the so-called law of parties.

Foster's plight is grim (lets hope last-minute appeals can stop the killing), but better news today is the amazing story of a boat-load of desperate African immigrants cast loose by ruthless people smugglers in the Mediterranean.

It was only through a shaky phone call to a relative in London that the alarm was raised and, amazingly, the Falmouth coastguard was able to get a GPS fix on the boats location and the people were rescued.

When David Cameron is beating the tribal Tory drumbeat on immigration, its a timely reminder that whether or not economic migrants are allowed to settle in Europe (or the UK) they are still people, not numbers. As with asylum-seekers - they deserve respect, not vilification.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
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.
View latest posts
0 comments