Failed by Florida: five reasons not to execute Manuel Valle tomorrow

September 27, 2011

My Countdown

Legal action charity Reprieve today highlights five key reasons that the execution of Manuel Valle – scheduled to take place tomorrow (September 28th) – should not go ahead.

Mr Valle, a Cuban national from a Spanish family, faces lethal injection in Florida tomorrow, despite numerous failures by the justice system to respect due process and his constitutional and human rights. 1. No clemency process: Mr Valle has been denied a clemency process, even though he has been held on death row for over three decades. The failure to do so violates state, federal and international law. 2. Experimental lethal injection drugs threaten cruel and unusual punishment: Mr Valle is set to be the first prisoner executed in Florida using a new, untested drug, which is not intended to be used for such purposes. Medical experts have warned that executions in other states using the new drug have been ‘clearly botched’, and the drug’s manufacturer has strongly opposed such uses of its product. A leading neurologist is currently taking action in Florida’s Supreme Court in an attempt to stop such ‘unlawful’ uses of the drug. 3. 33 years on Death Row is ‘inhuman’: The enormous amount of time Mr Valle has spent with a death sentence hanging over him would be considered an ‘inhuman’ punishment or even ‘torture’ in other countries around the world, from the European Union to Sub-Saharan Africa. 4. Lack of consular support: Mr Valle’s case has strong similarities to the case of Humberto Leal, a Mexican national notoriously executed by Texas earlier this year despite a failure to allow him access to consular assistance. Although Mr Valle is a Cuban national, the state of Florida failed to notify Cuba of his arrest; he also has a strong claim to Spanish nationality, but again the US authorities have not allowed the time for this to be fully explored. 5. International opposition: The Catholic Church, the European Union, British Members of Parliament, the Spanish Government, and the Washington-DC based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights are among the bodies which have called on Governor Rick Scott to stop the execution from going ahead. Reprieve investigator Maya Foa said: “Any one of these reasons alone should be enough to make Governor Scott reconsider this execution. All five of them together should make it abundantly clear that it must be stopped. “The failures of justice which Manuel Valle has suffered are appalling – both the process leading up to and the manner of his execution are clear infringements of his rights under the US Constitution and as a human being. “Carrying out this execution will make Florida’s already poor record on death penalty cases even worse. Governor Scott must think again.” ENDS Notes to editors 1. Mr Valle has never received a proper clemency procedure. The International Commission Against the Death Penalty Recently called on Florida to halt the execution due to this failure 3. Further information on leading neurologist Dr David Nicholl’s emergency petition to the Florida Supreme Court concerning the unlawful use of drugs in executions, and on associated issues with the safety of the new drugs, can be found on Reprieve’s website. 4. The UK Privy Council has ruled that being held on Death Row for excessive periods of time – as in the case of Manuel Valle – is “an inhuman punishment because it add[s] to the penalty of death the additional torture of a long period of alternating hope and despair,” while the European Court of Human Rights has said it is a violation of prohibitions against “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Kenya and Malawi hold similar views, while in Uganda, three years on death row, a delay one tenth as long as that faced by Mr Valle, can result in commutation of the death sentence. Further information can be found here. 5. International opposition: The letters to Governor Scott from the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on the Death Penalty and from the European Union can be found on Reprieve’s website.  Further information on the Catholic bishops’ appeal to Governor Scott can be found here. The IACHR’s letter concerning the action taken on Manuel Valle’s case can also be found on Reprieve’s website.