This morning (June 19, 2008) Amnesty International hosted a meeting with Professor Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions. Providing perspective for him were Sue Vaughn of Amnesty International USA, Dick Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, Deborah Fleischaker of the ABA's Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project, Renny Cushing of Murder Victim Families for Human Rights and Diann Rust-Tierney of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Professor Alston started by explaining his position and noted that he had met with much officials of the U.S. Justice Department yesterday, who expressed that they did not feel he has much to be concerned about. He also noted that a week from Monday (June 30) he'll hold a press conference to give his preliminary report, noting that the UN process then allows governments reported upon six weeks to comment, plus editing and translation prior to the issuing of a final report. Here is a bit more about his mission, followed by some photos from the meeting.
"The Special Rapporteur places a very high priority on receiving the views of civil society on the issues within his mandate. These are often invaluable in ensuring that his final reports and balanced and well-considered. The key aspect is that his mandate is actually not an abolitionist one. The matters that do come within the mandate are:
- Whether the due process requirements set out in international human rights law are observed in any trial (or subsequent pardons process) which may lead to the application of the death penalty;
- Whether, in retentionist states, the death penalty is only available for the "most serious crimes" (the legal position of the Special Rapporteur is that capital punishment is only permitted in international law for intentional murder.
(His views are set out here)
- In the
Although the mandate is not abolitionist, in some contexts (eg.,