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As part of the EU’s efforts to achieve a death penalty free world, the EU presidency is trying to stop an execution in the United States. The Ambassador of Spain to the US, on behalf of the Spanish Presidency of the EU, has written a letter to the Governor of the state of Arkansas, making a humanitarian appeal to grant Jack Harold Jones relief from the death penalty.
Jones was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to the death penalty for raping and killing a woman and assaulting her daughter in 1995. His execution is scheduled for March 16, 2010 but he is currently seeking clemency from the state parole board. Although he admits that he killed the victim, he claims that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the slaying. He also seeks mercy on the grounds that he has to live with the guilt for the murder every day of his life. Jones earlier filed an unsuccessful appeal, in which he challenged the manner of execution used in Arkansas — lethal injection.
The Spanish Presidency does not allege in its letter that Jones is innocent, or that his trial was unfair. It, instead, states its steadfast opposition to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances. It reaffirms the EU’s belief that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment, and that abolishing capital punishment is essential to protect human dignity and the progressive development of human rights. The letter also emphasizes that no legal system is immune from error and that there is no reliable evidence supporting the argument that the death penalty is a deterrent to serious crime.
The views expressed to the Governor reiterate those stated in the Declaration by the Presidency on October 9, 2009, the seventh World Day and the third European Day against the Death Penalty. That Declaration points out that the state is the ultimate guarantor of all persons’ human rights, and should not deprive anyone of his or her life. It also underscores that the US is one of five countries in which more than 90% of the known executions worldwide take place. In this regard, the US has the dubious distinction of being bedfellows with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
Whether the EU’s humanitarian appeal and Jones’ own plea for clemency will melt the hearts of the governor or the parole board is still a live issue.