European Union Urges Arkansas To Stop Execution

Apr 27, 2017

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Governor Asa Hutchinson, who has made pushing international trade a hallmark of his first term, received a letter from the European Union Ambassador to the U.S. calling for the state to stop executions. The letter was published Wednesday afternoon by the EU. The governor's office has not said whether it plans to reply.

The EU Ambassador to the United States David O'Sullivan made a "humanitarian appeal" for Governor Hutchinson to spare the life of Kenneth Williams. O'Sullivan highlighted arguments from attorneys that Williams was intellectually disabled, and thus should not be executed.

"It is my understanding that evidence was introduced at trial to show that Mr. Williams was intellectually disabled. While at the time there was no categorical exclusion for the execution of the intellectually disabled, this is now tge case, I also understand that three doctors have submitted reports to the court this week finding that Mr. Williams meets the definition of intellectual disability. I believe this evidence should be heard."

Williams is the last inmate Arkansas plans to execute before a lethal injection drug expires May 1st. The state has killed three men since April 20th. It originally planned to put to death eight death row inmates in 11 days but courts blocked several executions.

Ambassador O'Sullivan went on to note the European Union's general opposition to government's having the power to kill citizens.

"The European Union is opposed to the use of capital punishment under all circumstances and accordingly aims at its universal abolition, seeking a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step. We believe the elimination of the death penalty is fundamental to the protection of human dignity, and to the progressive development of human rights on a global scale. Furthermore, we are convinced that applying the death penalty will have no deterrent effect."

The letter also refers to opposition from European drug manufacturers. The state of Arkansas keeps its supply a state secret but companies tied to all three drugs used its lethal injection have objected to the use of their products. Arguments include claims the state deliberately mislead salesman of one drug to procure a supply.

Arkansas exports to EU nations top $1 billion, or about 19 percent of the state's total exports. The state imports $2.6 billion worth of products, accounting for nearly 33 percent of total imports according 2016 U.S. Department of Commerce figures. Arkansas has an economic development office in Berlin, Germany.