Portugal speaks out against 500th execution in Texas

Portugal has said it “profoundly laments” the execution of a female death row prisoner in Texas, who became the 500th inmate to be executed in that American State.

In a statement published on its website the Portuguese government said that while it “acknowledges the severity of the crimes committed” by Kimberley McCarthy, who was executed last month, and “sends it condolences to the victims’ families”, “Portugal reiterates its opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances, without exception.”

“The death sentence represents an irreversible loss of human life, and there are studies that contradict its respective deterrent effect”, it stressed. Portugal appeal to the State of Texas to “reflect on the application of capital punishment and to reconsider its application”, as did the State of Maryland in March this year when it decided to abolish the death sentence.

Kimberley LaGayle McCarthy, 52, became the 500th inmate to be executed in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated in 1982. She was executed by lethal injection on 26 June after being convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of her 71-year-old neighbour, a retired college professor, in 1997, during a home robbery.

She was also a suspect in the murders of 2 other elderly Texas women, for which she was never tried.

According to NBC news, “there are currently 283 men and women on death row in Texas; a State where a death row inmate is executed every 3 weeks (…) a rate that far exceeds that of any other state.”

Historically, Portugal was 1 of the first countries in the world to abolish capital punishment. The method used in Portugal was by hanging.

Hanging was first abolished “for all crimes” in 1911 before being reinstated “only for military crimes in war time with a foreign country and only in the ‘Theatre of war'”, in 1916.

It was eventually abolished for good and in all circumstances in 1976. The last execution in Portugal took place in Lagos (Algarve) in 1846.

In related news, the Portuguese Government has also published a declaration condemning the alleged execution of a Luso-Chinese citizen.

Information that has recently surfaced suggests Lau Fat Wai, who had duel Portuguese-Chinese nationality, was executed in China in February this year.

Should the reports be confirmed the Portuguese government says it “profoundly deplores” the execution.

Portugal says it will not contest the fact that Chinese authorities may not have been aware of the man’s duel nationality, and while it recognises the sovereignty of the Chinese judicial system in trying Lau Fat Wai for the crimes of which he was accused, Portugal is sorry that its repeated requests for leniency, made since 2009, were not enough to avoid the application of capital punishment.

“Portugal’s commitment to the fight to abolish the death sentence, in which we were historically pioneers, is unquestionable, and we are opposed to the application of capital punishment in all circumstances worldwide.”

Portugal’s position, made public on Tuesday this week (23 July) was “urgently transmitted to the Chinese Ambassador in Lisbon.”

Source: The Portugal News Online, July 25, 2013

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