20 September, 2010

It beggars belief ... practices which ought to be ended ...

The Death Penalty

It beggars belief that a supposedly civilised nation such as the United States of America still continues in many of its States to cling to the death penalty.

Robert McDonnell (Governor of Virginia) has refused a reprieve for Teresa Lewis who is likely to die by lethal injection on Thursday 23rd September.  See The Guardian 19th September 2010.  Virginia has not executed a woman since 1912.  An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court remains Lewis's only possibility of surviving.  Even though Lewis stands convicted of a very serious crime (conspiracy to murder) it is notable that the men who actually carried out the killings in pursuance of the agreement with Lewis received life sentences.  One of them confessed in order to avoid the death penalty but Lewis also pleaded guilty.

Here is the statement of Governor McDonnell.

Addendum 23rd September - The Supreme Court of the United States refused Lewis's application for a stay of the execution though two of the justices would have allowed it - see here.   See also New York Times 21st September 2010 and Amnesty International

Deportation with Assurances

It also beggars belief that a nation such as the United Kingdom is continuing to actively pursue so-called Memoranda of Understanding so that individuals can be deported to various States which have absymal human rights records including the use of torture.  See The Guardian 17th September 2010.  It also appears, from a debate in Parliament on 5th July 2010 that the British government is negotiating further memoranda.  This is an absymal practice which ought to stop immediately since it only lends encouragement to the hideous practice of torture.

For the debate see Hansard 5th July 2010 column 74W - here - question by Mr Dominic Raab MP (for Esher and Walton) to the Immigration Minister Mr Damian Green MP (for Ashford).

Mr Raab: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) with which countries the UK has a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the return of foreign nationals without the risk of torture or other inhuman and degrading treatment;

(2) with which countries the Government is negotiating with a view to signing a memorandum of understanding to facilitate the return of foreign nationals without the risk of torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment.

Damian Green: The UK has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon and Libya which set out in general terms the manner in which an individual deported to or from the UK and one of those countries under the terms of those Memoranda will be treated. Similar arrangements, which were set out in an exchange of letters between the then Prime Minister and the President of Algeria in July 2006, apply in respect of deportations from the UK to that country.

The texts of these Memoranda and of the exchange of letters are available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website:


We have made it clear that we intend to extend the practice of seeking assurances to more countries, but it would not be appropriate to identify the countries concerned until negotiations have been successfully concluded.

For the serious student, there is an interesting and critical article in the Cambridge Student Law Review Volume 6 No.1 (2010) at page 226 - "The SIAC, Deportation and European Law"

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