Washington, DC — 8/21/15 — Today, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty called on Texas Governor Greg Abbott to stay the execution of Nicaraguan national Bernardo Abán Tercero, who is scheduled for execution on August 26th for a 1997 murder. The Coalition echoed a statement released earlier this week by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), in which the IACHR determined that the United States had violated international law in Tercero’s case.
“Governor Abbott must immediately issue a stay of execution to Bernardo Tercero, whose rights to due process and a fair trial were trampled on by the courts. Now, Tercero may be put to death in a foreign country that has offered him nothing but inadequate legal representation and a refusal to allow him proper contact with his home country,” said Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the Coalition.
The IACHR determined that the United States violated international law by not granting Tercero his consular rights guaranteed under the American Declaration and the Charter of the Organization of American States. This means that Tercero was not permitted to be in contact with the Nicaraguan Consulate to avail himself of any assistance they might have provided in his defense.
By failing to notify Tercero of his right to contact the Nicaraguan consulate, Texas deprived Tercero of his access to due process and a fair trial. The legal representation Tercero did receive was severely inadequate. Among other things, his counsel failed to investigate pertinent information about the dire circumstances of Tercero’s childhood. This information might have had a bearing on whether a jury would have sentenced him to death.
“We know that the death penalty does not enhance public safety and is hindering our nation’s forward progress,” continued Rust-Tierney, “but in this instance, it is also undermining our international relations standing in the world as a nation committed to the advancement of human rights.”
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is the nation's oldest organization dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty. We are comprised of an extensive network representing more than 100 state and national affiliate organizations and thousands of advocates and volunteers. Our members include families of murder victims, people across the political and religious spectrum, past and present law enforcement officials and prominent civil and racial justice organizations working to end the death penalty forever.
In January 2014, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty launched the 90 Million Strong Campaign to partner with and mobilize a growing number of national organizations and individuals who believe that it is time for the death penalty to end.