Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Accepts Petition from Robert Garza

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has accepted a petition alleging serious human rights issues in the case of Texas death row inmate Robert Garza.  Mr. Garza is scheduled to be executed on September 19, 2013; he was convicted of the September 4, 2002 murders of María de la Luz Bazaldúa Cobarrubias, Danitzene Lizeth Vázquez Beltrán, Celina Linares Sánchez and Lourdes Yesenia Araujo Torres in Donna, Texas (Hidalgo County).

According to its website, “the Commission is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.”  In granting the petition from the Association of Humanitarian Lawyers, the Commission “requested that the United States take the measures necessary to preserve the life and physical integrity of Mr. Garza until the IACHR has pronounced on his petition so as not to render ineffective the processing of his case before the inter-American system.”

Read more in a press release below.

For immediate release:  August 21, 2013

Contact:  832-693-5710 
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accepts petition of death row prisoner scheduled for execution on September 19
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) has accepted a petition alleging serious human rights problems in the case of death row prisoner Robert Garza.   A petition is accepted by the Inter-American Commission when there is a strong reason to believe that there have been serious violations of due process and fair trial obligations. In capital cases the Inter-American Commission requires a higher duty of care and “heightened scrutiny”.
One of Mr. Garza’s attorneys, human rights specialist Karen Parker, stresses that the problems with Mr.Garza’s trial and conviction are among the worst that she has seen in death penalty cases.  She stated, “Imagine convicting  a person based on a confession in which the description of the scene of the crime is completely different from the actual scene.  The discrepancies between the facts and the defendant’s confession are legion.”   
Attorney Parker also notes that Texas appears unwilling or unable to comply with basic principles for a fair trial and due process, pointing out that Texas has been found in violation of basic human rights in a number of death penalty cases.
David Atwood, anti-death penalty activist in Texas, states:   “Our hearts go out to all victims of crime.  It is our hope and prayer that Texas authorities will seriously consider the concerns brought up in the petition to the Inter-American Commission with regard to Robert Garza’s case.   We know from experience that many people have been sent to death row in Texas when they should have been found innocent or given a sentence less than death.”
Ms.Parker can be contacted at the following email address:  ied@igc.org