International Information Programs
02 March 2001

U.S. Statement on Capital Punishment to OSCE Permanent Council

Amb. Johnson reviews case of Antonio Richardson

Ambassador David T. Johnson, U.S. representative to the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe, reiterated the processes and
procedures for imposition of capital punishment in the United States
in a statement to the OSCE Permanent Council March 1 in Vienna.

His remarks came after the case of convicted murderer Antonio
Richardson -- who was under age 18 at the time of the crime -- was
raised. "We continue to believe that the use of the death penalty on
juvenile offenders is not inconsistent with international law,"
Johnson said.

Following is a transcript of his remarks:

U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation 
Vienna

STATEMENT ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

Delivered by Ambassador David T. Johnson to the Permanent Council
Vienna

March 1, 2001

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

As the United States noted in its intervention on January 18 and on
other occasions, the question of capital punishment is a matter of
intense and serious debate in the United States, as well as in
numerous international fora.

Each person facing potential capital punishment in the United States
is constitutionally provided fair, impartial proceedings, the right to
appeal, and the assistance of legal counsel.

Under United States law, an individual sentenced to death is entitled
to a fact-finding procedure that affords a full and fair hearing to
assess his or her mental competence.

We continue to believe that the use of the death penalty on juvenile
offenders is not inconsistent with international law.

In 1991, Antonio Richardson, the defendant whose case has been raised
here today, and three of his friends brutally raped and murdered two
young women, aged nineteen and twenty. After raping them repeatedly,
Mr. Richardson and his friends pushed them off a 70-foot bridge to
their death. One of the women's bodies has never been found.

Mr. Richardson was tried and convicted by a jury of murder in the
first degree and murder in the second degree. The trial court fixed
punishment at death for the first conviction.

Since his conviction, Mr. Richardson has had multiple opportunities to
challenge his conviction and death sentence at all levels of the
American judiciary. He has raised numerous challenges both to his
conviction and sentence in both state and federal court, including two
petitions for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court. All of
these challenges have been rejected.

Mr. Chairman, the imposition of capital punishment in this case is, we
believe, fully consistent with international law. As has been
demonstrated by the facts of the case, it is imposed for the most
serious of crimes and in accordance with due process.

Thank you.

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)




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