Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, was featured on Press TV News Analysis on April 3, 2012 discussing the state of race relations in the United States. The murder of Trayvon Martin illustrates the legacy of national oppression., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
PANW Editor's Note: Since the granting of this interview during the early morning hours of July 23, 2012, the Georgia Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for Warren Hill, an intellectually disabled African American man slated to be executed only a few hours later. The next steps in this case will involve more hearings. The Pan-African News Wire will keep readers informed about the developing situation involving Warren Hill in Georgia.
Hill’s execution, another example of US travesty of justice: Analyst
Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:28PM GMT
To watch this interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:
"In the United States if you have an IQ score of less than 70, you are considered mentally handicapped. From my understanding, Hill IQ score was 69. So this was a travesty of justice but it is something that is not unprecedented here in the United States. There have been other cases, numerous cases, of people being mentally handicapped and ill but they have still been executed by these very states inside the US."
Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the 'Pan-African News Wire
The US is set to execute another mentally handicapped man in the state of Georgia despite protests from around the globe as well as the man’s family.
African-American Warren Hill, who has been on death row for more than 21 years for killing a fellow inmate, will face death penalty on Monday.
Medical tests have proven that the 52-year-old man suffers from significant mental disabilities.
Although the US Supreme Court ruled against the execution of prisoners with mental disabilities in 2002, the Georgia Board of Pardons has denied Hill clemency.
Hill's lawyers, rights groups and even the family of the victim have all demanded that Georgia commute Hill's sentence to life in prison.
"The US Supreme Court should stop the state of Georgia from executing a man who evidence indicates has significant intellectual disabilities," Human Rights Watch has said in a statement.
"It is a violation of the (constitutional) protections on the death penalty to impose the supreme punishment on individuals suffering from psycho-social handicaps," said Christof Heyns, of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
France has also expressed "concern about the situation.”
This comes as last Wednesday, the 33-year-old Yokamon Hearn with mental impairments was executed in the US state of Texas by lethal injection.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Mr. Azikiwe welcome to the program. My first question is probably the question on the minds of many. Why are these executions not being stopped?
Azikiwe: It appears as if the state of Georgia has instituted a very high standard in regard to considering someone mentally incapacitated. Although the state of Georgia ostensibly has placed a ban as far back as 1998 on the execution of people who are considered mentally handicapped or mentally retarded, the standard is so high that they will not agree to suspend the execution later on today of Mr. Warren Hill who is 52 years old and as you mentioned has been in prison now over 25 years. In 1990 he was charged and convicted with the killing of another inmate.
He had already been in prison for nearly five years for the death of his girlfriend. His attorney has declared that he is mentally handicapped. There was a request put forward to the state Board of Pardons for clemency in the case. It was turned down without any real detailed response from the board except to say that the request had been denied. The attorney brought forward witnesses from Hill’s family and talked about his own personal history as well as a former teacher who also testified to the fact that Hill was mentally incapacitated.
In the United States if you have an IQ score of less than 70, you are considered mentally handicapped. From my understanding, Hill IQ score was 69. So this was a travesty of justice but it is something that is not unprecedented here in the United States. They are other cases, numerous cases, of people being mentally handicapped and ill but they have still been executed by these very states inside the US.
Press TV: Mr. Azikiwe, when Yokamon Hearn was executed in Texas, the circumstances of his case were also similar to that of Warren Hill. Given the recent situation and talks of racial discrimination in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case, some analysts and observers see that these two men being of African American descent, these cases might have a hint of racial discrimination as well. Do you perceive it in that light?
Azikiwe: Yes. If you look at the criminal justice system as a whole inside the United States, it is disproportionally weighed against the African-American population. African Americans have a higher proportion of prison occupancy inside the United States. If you look at who is actually on the death row inside the United States, most of the people on the death row are from working class and poor backgrounds.
The percentage of African Americans on death row is far higher than the proportion of African Americans within the US population. So yes, there is a historic pattern of racial discrimination against African Americans, people of color and oppressed groups inside the United States and this relates to their treatment by the criminal justice system.
Now this case has drawn a lot of condemnation, even the former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn, who are from the state of Georgia, have joined in the chorus of many others asking for the execution to be stopped. Carter was a former governor, prior to becoming the president of the United States, in the state of Georgia so he has a long history in that state.
Also I think it is significant to point out that they have changed the drug protocol for lethal injection execution and it will be Hill who will be the first person to be executed with this the new drug protocol, using one drug as opposed to three drugs to carry out this lethal injection.
So I think the United States is far behind most other industrialized and even developing countries as it relates to the application of death penalty. The pattern has been over the last decade and a half to refrain from the utilization of the death penalty, because in many parts of the world it is considered a crime against humanity.
Press TV: Okay, I am sorry I have to jump in; we are running short of time. Mr. Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us here on Press TV.