California, The World Knows!


You hide yourself and prevent others from seeing what you’re doing. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) would like to do precisely that: they want to resume state-sanctioned murders for the 700 human beings currently on California Death Row and they don’t want you to know.

In January 2010, over 8,000 letters were sent by individuals who voiced their opposition to proposed changes to the state’s lethal injection process. The changes were rejected, citing many of the objections raised by the public during the comment process. Less than three days after the state oversight agency rejected the regulations proposed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), the CDCR has proposed new changes to the procedures, opening another fifteen-day comment period. These changes —made practically overnight— create even more civil rights and civil liberties problems, not fewer: read the detailed analysis of the current changes to the California Lethal Injection Procedure here and then tell the CDCR that you disapprove.

In 1999, California executed a citizen of Thailand. Mr. Jaturun Siripongs was not informed by U.S. authorities upon arrest of his right to have his consulate notified of his detention, as required under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Ten years later, on July 26, 2009, a Mexican citizen, Miguel Angel Martinez, died in custody in California. His consulate was also not informed upon his arrest.

As of March 14, 2010, there are 56 reported foreign nationals under sentence of death in California, including a European citizen from Estonia. For at least 33 of them, there is a possible of confirmed violation of their consular rights.

You think this is revolting? There’s more! The CDCR may currently be trying to exclude reporters who are foreign nationals from witnessing executions. Yes, they want to execute behind closed doors and they do not want the world to know. But the world knows. And two-thirds of the world disapproves! Tell them again! Remind them about the First Amendment to the United States Constitution: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ And why not reminding them also about the Eighth Amendment? ‘Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.’ Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing criminal punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering or humiliation it inflicts on the condemned person.

Some say capital punishment in the USA is a private matter. They tell us it is none of our business. They tell us to look away and to remain silent (meanwhile, they also want to teach us about human rights). I object to this! There are issues that rise above national level. When a majority of countries have said no to executions, the minority needs to understand that the world is moving forward and that, eventually, capital punishment will be universally abolished. It is only a matter of time.

If you are part of the majority, tell the minority that there is NO right way to do the wrong thing! If you are part of the minority, listen to the voice of the world!

You have until Friday, June 25, 5 pm Pacific Daylight Time (GMT -7) to do so. Here are several possibilities, some will take only 1 minute of your time:

* Fill in your details and click to send the pre-written message via the secure ACLU of Northern California website
* Join Death Penalty Focus in Saying NO to Executions!
* Submit your letter by email right now to (please add Elizabeth Zitrin, DP Focus International Outreach and Communications Project, ezitrin @ as copy to your email)
* Download a sample letter in French or English, personalize it if you wish and make it as long as you want. Then email it (as described above). You are even encouraged to write in your own language!

Remember that in this case “more IS more!” Let your friends know, share on social networks, and let’s get more than 8,000 letters this time! Thank you!