U.S. under international fire for execution of Troy Davis

The United States is coming under intense international criticism for Wednesday night’s execution of Troy Davis, who had been on death row for two decades in the U.S. state of Georgia.

The execution sparked outrage, in particular, in European capitals. “We strongly deplore that the numerous appeals for clemency were not heeded,” the French foreign ministry said.

“There are still serious doubts about his guilt,” said Germany’s junior minister for human rights Markus Loening. “An execution is irreversible — a judicial error can never be repaired.”

The European Union expressed “deep regret” over the execution and repeated its call for a universal moratorium on capital punishment.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the bloc had learned “with deep regret that Mr Troy Davis was executed,” her spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told Agence-France Presse.

“The EU opposes the use of capital punishment in all circumstances and calls for a universal moratorium,” she said. “The abolition of that penalty is essential to protect human dignity.”

Amnesty International condemned the execution in a statement.

“The U.S. justice system was shaken to its core as Georgia executed a person who may well be innocent,” Amnesty said. “Killing a man under this enormous cloud of doubt is horrific and amounts to a catastrophic failure of the justice system.”

Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), expressed his concern and dismay.

“We are concerned about reports suggesting that due process was not fully respected in the case of Troy Davis, and that his guilt could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt,” Lenarcic said.

According to these reports, most of the witnesses who testified against Davis at his trial have recanted their testimony, and no physical evidence was found proving his guilt, ODIHR pointed out.

While OSCE commitments do not require the abolition of the death penalty, OSCE participating States have committed themselves to carry out the death penalty only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and in a manner not contrary to their international commitments.

In the OSCE area, only the United States and Belarus continue carrying out executions.

Despite assurances of the United States, much of the world is convinced that the U.S. may have just executed an innocent man, and that the lack of meaningful recourse in the courts has demonstrated that the U.S. has a long way to go in living up to basic principles of due process and human rights.

Troy Davis, who maintained his innocence up to the very end, wished mercy upon his killers upon his execution.

“The incident that night was not my fault, I did not have a gun,” Davis said in the Georgia death chamber.

“For those about to take my life,” he said, “may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls.”

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