Monday, June 23, 2008

Meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur

Last Thursday, MVFHR Executive Director Renny Cushing was part of a meeting in Washington, DC with Professor Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbtirary executions. The Special Rapporteur, appointed by the UN Human Rights Commission, is mandated to investigatge killings which violate international human rights law. Investigating the death penalty falls within the Special Rapporteur's mandate if there are concerns about how it is carried out or applied with respect to international human rights standards (for example, if due process is not observed during the trial or appeals process).

Amnesty International hosted last Thursday's meeting, at which several representatives from the U.S. anti-death penalty movement briefed Professor Alston about issues regarding the death penalty in this country: Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn of Amnesty International USA, Dick Dieter of the Death Penalty Information Center, Deborah Fleischaker of the ABA's Death Penalty Moratorium Implementation Project, Diann Rust-Tierney of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and Renny Cushing of Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights. You can read NCADP's report on the meeting here.

Renny reports that he was able to introduce the Special Rapporteur to MVFHR's work, explain our identity as both a victims' organization and a human rights organization, and tell about our current death penalty and mental illness project and our previous work with families of the execution. He gave Professor Alston and his staff copies of our report Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind, which asserts that families of the executed ought to be viewed as victims under the UN Declaration of the Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power.

Professor Alston noted that the execution of persons with mental illness and mental disabilities was an area that he was reviewing. He will issue a preliminary report on the death penalty in the U.S. next Monday and a full report some time afterward.

Here's Professor Alston with Renny Cushing:

And with Dick Dieter and Diann Rust-Tierney:

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