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Urgent Interventions

Belize: death sentence passed against Mr. Michael Anthony Hendrix

Case BLZ 051101

The International Secretariat of OMCT has just received information about the death sentence passed against Mr. Michael Anthony Hendrix in Belize.

According to information from Amnesty International, Mr. Michael Anthony Hendrix, also known as “Steven Smith”, was sentenced to death on October 25th 2001. The information adds that Mr. Michael Anthony Hendrix is aged approximately 24 to 26 years and the father of two sons. He was declared guilty of the murder of Mr. Richard Cattouse, aged 22, in July 2000 and is at present detained in Hattieville prison.

According to the information received, his lawyers intend to appeal against the sentence and if the Appeals Court confirms it, his lawyers could present a final appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Private Council of la Corona (Comité Judicial del Consejo Privado de la Corona) which has its headquarters in London. If his execution goes ahead, it will be the first to take place since 1985.

It is reported that in Belize the death penalty by hanging is prescribed in cases of murder, except when there are extenuating circumstances. It is the prerogative of the Governor General, in consultation with the Belize Consultative Council composed of 10 members, to issue a pardon. The last execution to take place in Belize was in June 1985, when Kent Bowers was hanged in spite of a petition for his pardon, signed by 2’500 persons. We are also informed that since 1985 numerous death sentences have been passed, but none of them have been carried out.

While the International Secretariat of OMCT acknowledges that Mr. Michael Anthony Hendrix has committed a serious crime and expresses its sympathy and solidarity with the family and friends of Mr. Richard Catthouse, it nevertheless expresses its unconditional opposition to the death penalty in all cases, considering it a violation of the right to life and the right not to be submitted to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. OMCT would also like to recall that most countries in the world have abandoned the death penalty, and that only a few countries, e.g. the USA, Iran, Iraq, Trinidad & Tobago, still apply it. OMCT also recalls that it has been demonstrated that the death penalty does not have a greater dissuasive effect that other penalties.

Geneva, November 5th 2001
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