Watchdog warns Florida over dysfunctional Manuel Valle case

September 23, 2011

The International Commission against the Death Penalty has called on the state of Florida to stop the execution of Manuel Valle and grant him a transparent and meaningful clemency procedure.

At 61-years-old, Valle, a Cuban national with close ties to Spain has spent over three decades on death row, consistently being denied a clemency process in violation of his state, federal and international law. He is set to die at 4pm on September 28 after the state of Florida rescheduled his execution despite emerging national and international concerns about the case. Lawyers for Manuel Valle are seeking a reversal of the decision by Florida Supreme Court which prevents them from filing a civil rights case on Valle’s behalf. If the decision holds, they will not be able to challenge the state’s refusal to grant clemency to Manuel Valle. Further concerns include a potentially torturous execution method and multiple errors by the state of Florida which have kept their client facing death for 33 years.  An amicus brief expressing similar concerns has been submitted to the Supreme Court by the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales, the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, the Law Society of England and Wales and the Spanish Society for International Human Rights Law.In the past few weeks the United Nations, European Union, Catholic Church and the Government of Spain have also written to Florida’s Governor Rick Scott asking him to halt the execution.ENDS  Notes to editors 1. href=”/cases/manuelvalle/”>Manuel Valle is a Cuban national with Spanish links, who has now been on death row for 33 years. He has been denied proper clemency proceedings, and (similarly to the recent case of Humberto Leal in Texas) did not receive the consular assistance to which he was entitled. 

3. The International Commission against the Death Penalty is an initiative started in 2010 which exists to undertake complimentary action alongside other organisations, in favour of a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty.

4. Further problems in the case, as cited by Mr Valle’s legal team and in the amicus brief, include:

    Mr Valle has not been granted a fair and meaningful clemency process – a clear and unequivocal right under international law. Mr Valle is due to be executed with a new method featuring controversial drug pentobarbital. Pentobarbital was not designed for use in surgical anaesthesia, and both medical experts and the manufacturer agree that use in executions could cause agonising pain and suffering. Executions using pentobarbital have failed properly to anaesthetize prisoners, leading to severe and prolonged agony. An eyewitness from the Associated Press has described the “thrashing, jerking death of Roy Willard Blankenship” during which “his eyes never closed”. The full text of Dr David Waisel’s affidavit on Roy Blankenship’s inadequate anaesthesia can be found on Reprieve’s website.  Mr Valle has been on death row for 33 years, due primarily to the errors in the way that proceedings were carried out by the State of Florida. Prolonged incarceration on death row amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and violates international law.

5. Reprieve’s EC Project identifies and assists prisoners with European connections who are facing the death penalty in the USA.