Dismay at decision to deny clemency to man on death row in USA

  • Troy Davis to be executed tomorrow despite huge response to ‘Too Much Doubt’ campaign
  • ‘Terrible day for US justice’ - Kate Allen
  • Vigil outside US embassy in London planned for tomorrow night

Campaigners have reacted with dismay at a decision that will see a man in the state of Georgia executed this week unless there is a last-minute intervention.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles voted this afternoon to deny clemency to Troy Davis, 42, a man who has been on death row for over 20 years. The decision has come despite a high-profile “Too Much Doubt” campaign, with nearly 900,000 people signing a global petition to the parole board pointing out that there are significant doubts over the safety of Davis’ original conviction.

Davis’ execution is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday 21st, at 7pm Georgia time: midnight, UK time). Campaigners are continuing to raise the case with officials in Georgia and Amnesty International is planning vigils around the world on Wednesday, including outside the US embassy in London from 10pm.

Davis has been on death row since being convicted in August 1991 of the killing of an off-duty policeman called Mark Allen MacPhail, who was shot in Savannah, Georgia in 1989.  The 42-year-old has always protested his innocence and there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

Since his trial seven out of nine prosecution witnesses have recanted or changed their initial testimonies in sworn affidavits and in 2007 Amnesty International published a report detailing a pattern of police coercion of witnesses ahead of Davis’ trial. Meanwhile, ten people have pointed to one of the remaining witnesses as the actual killer.

Before this week Davis has already had three different execution dates and in September 2008 he was only two hours away from being executed before the Supreme Court intervened to stay the execution.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This is a terrible day for US justice. The case against Troy Davis was always weak and since the trial it has disintegrated.

“I sincerely urge the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to examine their consciences, look again at the case with all its glaring doubts, and reverse their decision.

“Amnesty is always opposed to the death penalty, but even supporters of capital punishment would surely agree that you shouldn’t press ahead with an execution when there’s as much doubt as there is in this case.

“Should Troy Davis be executed, Georgia may well have executed an innocent man and discredited the US justice system.”

Bianca Jagger, the Council of Europe’s Goodwill Ambassador on the Death Penalty, has supported the “Too Much Doubt” campaign. She said:

“To execute Troy Davis in these circumstances would be a travesty. If the death sentence is carried out in this questionable case, it will be an egregious miscarriage of justice which will shame both Georgia and the US legal system. Troy Davis’s execution would only serve to complete a cycle of violence.

“I appeal to the Board of Pardons and Paroles and to all Georgia state officials: don’t let this man die. Executing an innocent man is a state-sanctioned murder.”

Richard Hughes, the drummer from the indie-rock band Keane visited Troy Davis on death row in 2009. He said:

“I’m totally devastated by this news. The Parole Board have previously stated that where there is doubt they will not execute. There is too much doubt in Troy's case, and this decision brings justice for no-one.”

Amnesty’s “Too Much Doubt” campaign on Troy Davis has won wide international support, including from prominent musicians such as Franz Ferdinand, The Drums, Mogwai, The Orb, Andrew Weatherall and Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds), as well as from comedians Matt Kirshen and Matt Berry. These and thousands of other Amnesty supporters have participated in an online campaign under the hashtag #TooMuchDoubt and #TroyDavis (see www.amnesty.org.uk/doubt .

Last week approximately 40,000 people contacted the Georgia authorities via the UK Amnesty website alone, an unprecedented response for such a case.

Take action today: ask for clemency for Troy strong>.

Notes

  • Troy Davis’ execution is opposed by the Nobel laureates Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jose Ramos Horta. The former FBI director William Sessions has also made clear his opposition to the execution.
  • Last year the USA executed 46 death row inmates, a lower figure than in recent years, but still the fifth highest number of any country in the world. Over 3,200 prisoners are currently on death row in the USA.
  • Since 1973, 138 death row prisoners have been released from death row in the USA on the grounds of innocence.

View latest press releases