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.

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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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