(en) Fw: Amnesty International's Secretary General, horrified with

Meletis (mlk@hol.gr)
Thu, 27 Nov 1997 21:36:15 +0200

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---------- : From: Amnesty International <amnesty@oil.ca> : To: amnesty-l@oil.ca : Subject: USA: Amnesty International's Secretary General, horrified with : Date: Thursday, November 27, 1997 5:02 PM : : * News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International * : AI INDEX: AMR 51/76/97 : 25 NOVEMBER 1997 : : USA: Amnesty International's Secretary General, horrified with : Pennsylvania's death row, hears testimony of Mumia Abu-Jamal and Scott : Blystone : : After spending a day hearing testimony from Pennsylvania condemned : prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Scott Blystone, Amnesty International's : Secretary General expressed sadness and horror at the brutality of the : conditions they described. : : "Death row in Pennsylvania looks and feels like a morgue," Mr. Sane[/] : said minutes after he left the state-of-the-art Supermax prison in : Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, which houses the state's principal death row. : "Everything is high-tech, and there is no human being in sight. From the : moment that condemned prisoners arrive, the state tries to kill them : slowly, mechanically and deliberately -- first spiritually, and then : physically." : : According to the prisoners' testimony, these efforts include beatings : by guards, isolation, continual withdrawal of privileges, unnecessary : disciplinary action and harassment of visitors, who are often denied entry. : : In addition, both Mr. Abu-Jamal and Mr. Blystone told the Secretary : General : about the harrowing experience of receiving a death warrant. Mr. Abu-Jamal : described the process of being placed on death watch: "There are six : cells, cages shielded by plastic. At the front of each cell door is a box : containing a remote control camera that monitors your every movement, : twenty four hours a day. The guard that used to watch us has been replaced : by an impersonal camera. It's all part of the dehumanizing process." : : Mr. Blystone told Mr. Sane[/]: "They come to your cell. You know they : are bringing a warrant, because they are very polite. They come for you : with twelve officers. They handcuff you, belt you, shackle your feet. You : can hear your heart beating as they inspect your veins to make sure that : they can withstand the size of the needle that will be used to kill you. : They measure you for a burial suit. They call your family and tell them : where to pick up your dead body." : : Defense attorneys in Pennsylvania told Mr. Sane[/] that the : governor signs these death warrants prematurely, when the prisoners are : still in the process of appealing their convictions in state courts. "This : unnecessary procedure is tantamount to psychological torture," said Mr. : Sane[/]. "Every time the governor signs a warrant, a mother, a wife, a : brother, gets a phone call announcing their loved one's death." : : The Secretary General said that he was particularly concerned that : prison guards confiscated the notes that Blystone had brought to the : meeting, in which he had detailed physical abuse by prison guards and : included the names of the alleged perpetrators. "Scott was led to believe : that he would be allowed to bring his notes to our meeting," said Mr. : Sane[/]. "Now he is : terrified that the guards who read these notes will take reprisals against : him." : : Mr. Sane[/] added that Amnesty International is alerting its members : to write to the prison authorities expressing these concerns. In addition, : Mr. Sane[/] said that Amnesty International is in the process of reviewing : Mr. Abu-Jamal's original trial in order to determine if it conformed to : international standards of justice. : : "Amnesty International has serious doubts about the fairness of Mr. : Abu-Jamal's trial, which may have been contaminated by the deep-rooted : racism that appears to taint the application of the death penalty in : Pennsylvania," Mr. Sane[/] said. : : Mr. Sane[/] also expressed outrage that poor capital defendants like : Mr. Blystone do not receive adequate legal representation when they are on : trial for their lives. Mr. Blystone's original court-appointed attorney had : been a practising lawyer for three months and had no experience in murder : trials when he defended him, and he failed to present crucial mitigating : evidence that could have saved his client's life. : : "The system has failed Scott Blystone, and it continues to fail other : poor people who cannot afford to obtain adequate legal representation," : stated Mr. Sane[/]. : : These concerns led Mr. Sane[/] to issue a challenge to the governor : and the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to initiate a full investigation : into the racist and unfair application of the death penalty in the state, : and to call for a moratorium on all executions. : : "Surely no governor, Attorney General or District Attorney, no matter : how supportive of capital punishment, can publicly support a system so : racially biased and unfair," Mr. Sane[/] said. : : After his visit to State Correctional Institution-Greene, Mr. Sane[/] : addressed the Philadelphia Bar Association - the largest Bar Association in : Pennsylvania - in support of a resolution calling for a moratorium on all : executions. The Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Mike Fisher, and : representatives of Philadelphia's District Attorney's office spoke against : the motion, and denied that the death penalty was applied unfairly in : Pennsylvania. : : However, the motion was overwhelmingly approved by the association's : Board of Governors. The Bar Association cited its concerns that the death : penalty may be imposed on defendants who have been inadequately represented : at trial, as well as the racial disparities in the use of the death : penalty, when it called for the moratorium. : ENDS.../ : : : **************************************************************** : You may repost this message onto other sources provided the main : text is not altered in any way and both the header crediting : Amnesty International and this footer remain intact. Only the : list subscription message may be removed. : **************************************************************** : To subscribe to amnesty-L, send a message to <majordomo@oil.ca> with : "subscribe amnesty-L" in the message body. To unsubscribe, send a : message to <majordomo@oil.ca> with "unsubscribe amnesty-L" in the message : body. If you have problem signing off, contact <owner-amnesty-L@oil.ca>

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