Top US Human Rights Lawyer to address issue of Capital Punishment

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

30 January 2007 The Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway is pleased to announce a seminar by leading human rights lawyer Bryan A. Stevenson on Tuesday, 6 February, at 1.00pm at the centre in Earls' Island.

Mr Stevenson, who represents disadvantaged people and death row prisoners in America, is in Ireland as part of a week-long nationwide tour in conjunction with Amnesty International.

Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Professor William Schabas welcomed Mr Stevenson to Galway, describing him as "one of the most iconic figures in the US campaign against capital punishment."

"Bryan Stevenson is one of the pre-eminent lawyers in the United States whose work is devoted to challenging the death penalty," said Prof. Schabas. "His work takes on heroic proportions, as he battles to defend those subject to execution at trial and in post-conviction proceedings. His visit to the Irish Centre for Human Rights gives us an occasion to reaffirm our own, and Ireland s, opposition to capital punishment. He is also a fabulous role model for young human rights activists contemplating careers in the field. For some people, meeting Bryan Stevenson and hearing him speak will transform their lives."

Prof. Schabas will speak alongside Mr Stevenson at a public session in the Galway City Library, St Augustine Street, later on Tuesday evening.

A Professor of Law at New York University and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama, Mr Stevenson and his staff have been successful in overturning dozens of capital murder cases and death sentences where disadvantaged people have been unconstitutionally convicted or sentenced.

He has been recognised as one of the top public interest lawyers in the US and his efforts to confront bias against the poor and people of colour in the criminal justice system have earned him dozens of awards.

A spokesperson for Amnesty International, which campaigns for an end to executions and the abolition of the death penalty everywhere, said; "The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment - it violates the right to life. It is irrevocable, can be inflicted on the innocent and has never been shown to deter crime more effectively than other punishments. Progress has been dramatic. In 1977, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Today the figure stands at 88."

Mr Stevenson will visit Limerick, Galway, Cork and Dublin as part of the Amnesty International tour.

-ENDS-

For further information please contact Jacqueline Hogge, Press Office, NUI GalwayTel: 00353 91493361

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