On the Executions of Ledell Lee, Jack Harold Jones, and Marcel Wayne Williams in the State of Arkansas
As delivered by Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Kate M. Byrnes
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
April 27, 2017
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to our colleagues from the delegations of the European Union, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, and Switzerland for raising your concerns. As they noted, on April 20, the State of Arkansas executed Ledell Lee for the 1993 murder of Debra Reese. On April 24, the State of Arkansas executed Jack Harold Jones for the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips. On April 24, the State of Arkansas executed Marcel Wayne Williams for the 1994 rape and murder of Stacy Errickson.
The United States recognizes the debate on the death penalty both within and among nations. We respect the views of our friends around this table. We remind colleagues that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States is a party, permits imposition of the death penalty for the most serious crimes when carried out pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court, and accompanied by appropriate protections and procedural safeguards, including the observance of due process. This includes the right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence in all cases.
The U.S. judicial system provides exhaustive protections to ensure that the death penalty is not applied in an extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary manner and that it may only be carried out subject to extensive due process and equal protection requirements after exhaustive appeals. These and other protections, including with respect to the manner in which a death penalty is carried out, are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and criminal statutes at both the federal and state levels.
The cases involving Ledell Lee, Jack Harold Jones, and Marcel Wayne Williams were each the subject of exhaustive review at both the state and federal court levels. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately denied further review or stay in each of these cases, thus allowing the executions to proceed.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.