UK: Ealing Amnesty International School Group to Present Former Death Row Prisoner Ryan Matthews With 'Dove Of Freedom'

Ryan's mother Pauline will also be present at the event, as will leading British-born death row lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, who worked on Ryan’s case.

Ryan Matthews was sentenced to death in Louisiana, USA, for a crime allegedly committed by him when he was aged 17. After spending five years on death row He was exonerated and released 2004.

The school group was inspired respond to Ryan Matthews's plight after hearing his mother speak about her son’s case last year. At that time Ryan was still on death row facing execution.

Julia Shipman of the Notting Hill and Ealing High School Amnesty International group said:

'We thought it would be brilliant to be able to give the dove to him as a ‘sign of hope and freedom’. We are delighted to be able to do this in person now Ryan is free.'

Ryan, who was convicted and sentenced to death for a murder he was alleged to have committed when he was two weeks past his 17th birthday, always maintained his innocence. No physical evidence linked Ryan to the crime and the conviction was based on the testimony of two purported eyewitnesses. After campaigning from Amnesty International and other organisations like Reprieve, fresh investigations uncovered DNA evidence that led to his exoneration and release earlier this year.

The imposition of a death sentence on child offenders is contrary to international law and currently only the United States insists that it is lawful to impose these punishments. Earlier this month the US Supreme Court began hearing constitutional and legal arguments against these punishments in the US. Several executions of child offenders have been stayed pending the outcome of Supreme Court deliberations. Some 70 child offenders are currently on death row in the United States.

Last year Scott Allen Hain was executed in the USA for a crime committed when he was 17.

Even in the US there is a trend at state level toward raising the minimum age to 18 - most recently in South Dakota and Wyoming earlier this year. Meanwhile no US state has lowered the minimum age since executions resumed in the country in 1977. Twenty-two child offenders have been executed in seven US states since 1977.

The presentation of the dove to Ryan Matthews

Where

Rosebery Hall
90 Rosebery Avenue
London
EC1

When

Thursday 21 October, 1-2pm

Note to photographers

The Amnesty International school campaigners will present Ryan with the dove at approximately 2pm. The dove is three-dimensional and roughly one-metre in length. It is decorated with the handprints of 30 pupils from the school.

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