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University supports study of death penalty practices across US.

Staff and students at a Birmingham university are to help carry out a major study of death penalty practices across America following a cash boost from the British Government.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has awarded pounds 200,000 to Death Row campaign group Amicus.

The organisation co-ordinates the activities of British lawyers working on behalf of inmates facing execution in the USA, and includes Julian Killingley, a law lecturer at the University of Central England in Perry Barr, on its board. Amicus is now to receive pounds 200,000 over the next three years from a special human rights project fund operated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Dr Killingley said: 'We made our bid with the aim of trying to make US courts pay more attention to international law.'

The focus will be on the 38 States in the US which still retain the death penalty.

He added: 'Our interest is in mentally retarded prisoners, the execution of juveniles which, in the US, is down to the age of 16 and violation of the Vienna Convention.

'This says that if a foreign citizen is suspected of a crime, their consulate is supposed to be notified. But that doesn't happen in the US.' The cash will fund postgraduates or qualified practitioners to spend three to six months in the US, with a grant of pounds 1,000 a month living costs.

The report will be presented to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Earlier this year Dr Killingley helped to save from execution mentally-retarded Death Row prisoner Johnny Paul Penry, who faced a lethal injection for the 1970s murder of a Texas woman.

It may then decide whether to bring international pressure on the US.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Dec 18, 2001
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