The state of Texas is scheduled to execute Heliberto Chi on October 3, 2007. Chi is a citizen of Honduras who was sentenced to death for the March 24, 2001 murder of Armand Paliotta, 56, at the K&G Men’s Superstore in southwest Arlington.
Chi’s court-appointed attorney, Wes Ball, says that Chi was not allowed to contact his country’s consulate as prescribed by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. That 1963 treaty was meant to allow foreigners who are arrested the right to speak with their consulates.
“Nobody told Mr. Chi he had a right to a consular official, and it was never brought to his attention,” Ball said.
If Texas executes a person who was not given the right to contact his consulate and seek assistance when he was arrested, then U.S. citizens who travel abroad may not be guaranteed the right by other countries to contact the U.S. consulate when they are arrested.
The U.S. Supreme Court has accepted a case out of Kentucky (Baze v. Rees) in which two death row inmates are challenging lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution’s 8th Amendment. A judicious course of action would be for the state of Texas to suspend executions until the Supreme Court determines whether the three drug method used in Kentucky, Texas and other states does not violate the U.S. Constitution.
Please stop this execution and all Texas executions until after the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Kentucky case.
The Texas Legislature should create an interim committee to study the administration of the death penalty in Texas, paying particular attention to the risk of executing an innocent person, the question of the method of execution, the need for a statewide Office of Public Defenders for Capital Cases to ensure that each person facing a death sentence has competent representation, the need to establish an Innocence Commission, and other reforms to improve the administration of justice in Texas.
In the text of your message, urge the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Perry to commute Chi’s sentence to life in prison.
The government of Honduras has urged Texas officials to spare the life of Chi. The request was part of a clemency petition signed by 50 nations seeking a commuted sentence for Heliberto Chi.
Under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 (VCCR), local authorities must notify all detained foreigners “without delay” of their right to have their consulate informed of their detention. At the request of the national, the authorities must then notify the consulate without delay, facilitate unfettered consular communication and grant consular access to the detainee. Consuls are empowered to arrange for their nationals’ legal representation and to provide a wide range of humanitarian and other assistance, with the consent of the detainee. Local laws and regulations must give “full effect” to the rights enshrined in Article 36. The USA ratified the VCCR without reservations in 1969; so fundamental is the right to consular notification and access that the US Department of State considers it to be required under customary international law in all cases, even if the detainee’s home country has not signed the VCCR. As of 1 January 2000, at least 167 countries were parties to the VCCR.
In addition to sending Gov Perry an email, you can leave him a phone message at: 512-463-2000, fax him at 512-463-1849 (his fax line is often busy, so just keep trying) or write him at:
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428
Come to the Governor’s Mansion in Austin or one of the protests sites in the list of cities below to protest the Texas death penalty every time there is a scheduled execution.
Huntsville – Corner of 12th Street and Avenue I (in front of the Walls Unit) at 5:00 p.m.
Austin – At the Governor’s Mansion on the Lavaca St. side between 10th and 11th St. from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.
Beaumont – Diocese of Beaumont, Diocesan Pastoral Office, 703 Archie St. @ 4:00 p.m. on the day of an execution.
College Station – 6 to 7 PM on execution days, corner of Texas Avenue and University Drive.
Corpus Christi – at 6 PM in front of Incarnate Word Convent at 2910 Alameda Street
Dallas – 5:30 pm, at the SMU Women’s Center, 3116 Fondren Drive
Houston – 5:30 to 6:20 at the Dominican Sisters Mother House at 6501 Almeda Rd. (corner of Almeda and Holcombe), Parking is accessible from Almeda Rd.
Lewisville – St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church, 1897 W. Main Street. Peace & Justice Ministry conducts Vigils of Witness Against Capital Punishment at 6:00 pm on the day executions are scheduled in Texas.
McKinney – St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Community located at 110 St. Gabriel Way. We gather the last Saturday of the month between 6:00 to 6:30 to pray for those men/women scheduled to be executed in the next month and to remember the victims, their families, and all lives touched, including us as a society.
San Antonio (Site 1) – Archdiocese of San Antonio, in the St. Joseph Chapel at the Chancery, 2718 W. Woodlawn Ave. (1 mile east of Bandera Rd.) at 11:30 a.m. on the day of execution. Broadcast on Catholic Television of San Antonio (Time-Warner cable channel 15) at 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on the day of execution.
San Antonio (Site 2) – Main Plaza across from Bexar County Courthouse and San Fernando Cathedral – Noon
Spring – Prayer Vigil at 6 PM on evenings of executions at St Edward Catholic Community, 2601 Spring Stuebner Rd for the murder victim, for family and friends of the murder victim, the prison guards and correctional officers, for the family of the condemn man/woman, for the man/woman to be executed and to an end to the death penalty.