From: Open World
Dec. 12, 2000
Labor Delegation for Mumia Meets with Justice Dept.
OWC CAMPAIGN NEWS - distributed by the Open World Conference in Defense of Trade Union Independence & Democratic Rights,
c/o S.F. Labor Council, 1188 Franklin St., #203, San Francisco, CA 94109.
Visit out new website at www.owcinfo.org.
IN THIS MESSAGE:
1) Letter of Presentation:
December 12, 2000
Dear Sisters and Brothers:
Please find below an initial report on the international labor delegation that met yesterday (December 11th) at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington with Stuart Ishimaru, Director, Civil Rights Department, U.S. Department of Justice; and Shanlon Wu, counsel to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.
The delegation was co-sponsored by the "Labor For Mumia" campaign and the International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and was supported by the Continuations Committee of the Open World Conference in Defense of Trade Union Independence and Democratic Rights.
A more complete report, with the statements presented to Mr. Ishimaru by all the delegates at the meeting, is in preparation and will sent out shortly. The full report will also include a larger portion of the statements submitted on December 11 to the Department of Justice. Only two of these statements -- by U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters and OAS Human Rights Chairman Helio Bicudo -- are included in this report below.
We would like to thank the thousands of you who sent written statements -- either personal or in the name of your union or organization -- in support of the delegation and its objectives. Your voices were heard. We do, however, still need your support -- as you will read below.
Yesterday, Mr. Ishimaru pledged that the Department of Justice would issue before the end of the Clinton administration its final response to our petition for a federal investigation into the persistent violations of Mumia Abu-Jamal's civil and constitutional rights. Mr. Ishimaru stated it was his intention to have this reply before the end of the year. This gives us two to three weeks at most to step up this important campaign.
With even greater intensity and determination than ever, we must press ahead to demand that the Department of Justice give us a positive response to our demands. We must build the widest possible support the world over for the urgent plea that the U.S. Department of Justice open immediately an investigation into the violation of Mumia Abu-Jamal's civil and constitutional rights.
And for this we urgently need your financial support. We have close to $2000 in debt from the important December 11th delegation, which we must pay off within the next week. And we will need additional funds to contact elected officials in the U.S. Congress and at all levels of government -- as well as trade union officials at home and abroad -- to ask them to join us in demanding federal government intervention in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Pam Africa, a leader of the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal, just called our office to inform us that a Writ of Mandamus filed on behalf of Abu-Jamal was summarily turned down this morning [see the ICFF website: www.Mumia.org]. The appeal to Janet Reno may be one of our last and best chances to win a new trial and justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Please send your donations, large or small but preferably large, to "Labor For Mumia," c/o San Francisco Labor Council, 1188 Franklin St. #203, San Francisco, CA 94109. We need at least $5000 to meet the needs of this new situation. Checks should be made payable to Labor For Mumia with an indication that the funds are to cover the efforts of the international labor delegation.
United, we will win justice for Mumia!
for the OWC Continuations Committee
2) Press Release: Report on December 11th meeting between international labor delegation and the Department of Justice officials
International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal
-- Press Release --
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2000
FURTHER INFORMATION: Alan Benjamin: (415) 626-1175
International Delegation Meets With Justice Dept., Demands Federal Civil Rights Investigation into the Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal
WASHINGTON - On Monday, December 11, 2000, an international delegation of trade union and political leaders met at the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) in Washington with Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart Ishimaru. The delegation, which was co-sponsored by the "Labor For Mumia" campaign and the International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal, was following up on a meeting held on January 12 with Mr. Ishimaru, at which a demand was made that the DoJ open a federal investigation into 29 documented violations of the civil and constitutional rights of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a political prisoner being held on death row in Pennsylvania.
"We had to be here," said Dominique Vincenot, delegation co-coordinator and organizer of the International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal, just before the meeting began. "Now, in the final days of this administration, we felt we had no choice but to come again - backed up by the moral support of 1.5 million petition signatures, as well as letters and statements from the Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States, Rep. Maxine Waters of the Congressional Black Caucus, and trade union confederations across the globe. For 11 months, we have been pushing for and demanding a response, which - despite our letters, telegrams, phone calls, and petitions - has not been forthcoming."
Under continued pressure from the delegation, Ishimaru made a specific commitment to issue a final report on the DoJ's decision on this matter before the end of the Clinton Administration. Further, he agreed to present the department's findings at a face-to-face meeting in Washington with Baldemar Velasquez, the delegation chairperson, and other members of the delegation.
"It was very positive that Mr. Ishimaru agreed to issue his report and to meet with us in Washington before the end of this administration," said Velasquez, president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (AFL-CIO), who was mandated as a delegate by the national leadership of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA, AFL-CIO). "It was important that he pledged to have a concrete response to our petition. I will be here in Washington to meet with Mr. Ishimaru. We've been pushing for a response for close to one year."
Last January 12, Ishimaru was presented with detailed information regarding violations of Abu-Jamal's civil and constitutional rights with respect to the suppression, manipulation, and manufacturing of evidence; the inadequacy of counsel during the guilt phase of the trial; the manner in which the trial and direct appeal were conducted; the selection of the jury and improper jury procedures; the penalty phase of the trial; and the conduct of the post-conviction proceedings.
Ishimaru told yesterday's delegation that the DoJ had not yet made a decision regarding intervention because it was still examining whether the department had jurisdiction. And, "another thing that goes into our decision-making process," he said, "is whether there are other proceedings involved, and whether we get involved." This was a reference to Mumia's case pending in federal district court. Ishimaru also stated that one of the issues still under consideration was whether the "statute of limitations" on the alleged violations had run out.
Bill Bachmann, a member of the New York Area Metro Postal Union, responded for the delegation. "The Justice Department has an obligation to intervene and not to concern itself with what the court system does. If you look at the fact that Federal District Court Judge Yohn refused to even examine the amicus brief sent by 22 members of the British Parliament on behalf of Mumia, and if you look at the entire role of the Pennsylvania courts in railroading Mumia, it's clear that the role of the courts is one of the reasons a federal investigation is warranted - as the January 12 materials document."
The delegation characterized Ishimaru's argument that the DoJ might have to wait for the conclusion of pending cases in those very courts as nothing other than a delaying tactic. And, as had been done in January, the delegation addressed the statute-of-limitations issue head on, pointing to the ongoing violations of Mumia's rights beginning in 1982 and continuing to this day. As was noted in January, the statute of limitations does not apply if there is a determination that violations have been systematic and ongoing.
At the meeting's conclusion, Alan Benjamin, a member of the Organizing Committee of the Open World Conference in Defense of Trade Union Independence and Democratic Rights, summarized the delegation's perspective on these matter to Ishimaru: "The American people and the millions of working people around the world who have demanded justice and a new trial for Mumia cannot and will not accept the refusal of the Department of Justice to open a federal investigation on grounds of issues of jurisdiction or anything else. The evidence is compelling; it cries out for a federal investigation - today, now, before you leave office.
"If you refuse to open an investigation, you will be taking direct responsibility for anything that may happen to Mumia under the next administration. You have had ample time to open an investigation and to establish the basis for a new trial. The clock is ticking. If you refuse to open an investigation, you will have told the millions of African Americans who feel legitimately that they have been disenfranchised in this country, who are being sent to death row in disproportionate numbers because they are Black, poor, and lack access to competent legal representation, that there is no justice in this country for African Americans. Our delegation urges you to ponder these questions seriously before you render your decision in the coming weeks.
"As you know full well, it is not a matter of jurisdiction or the fact that courts may be involved at this time. Deliberations as to when to intervene are flexible and subject to a wide range of interpretations. It is a matter of political will, not narrow legality.
"We will be back soon to hear from you in person the results of your report, and we expect that you will announce the opening of a federal investigation. We will continue to appeal to the trade union movement and to elected officials in this country and around the world for support. You will be hearing from them in large numbers."
On the steps of the Justice Department following the meeting, Benjamin reiterated this promise. "We have to raise it a notch. We have to get members of Congress; we have to get the AFL-CIO. We're going to do whatever is needed to win this brother a new trial."
3) List of participants in international labor delegation
[The following is a list of the members of the International Trade Union Delegation on Behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal to the U.S. Department of Justice on December 11, 2000.]
Heinrich Becker, secretary-treasurer, GEW teacher's union, Frankfurt
Roland Biosah, secretary, Races Relations Committee of the Trade Union Congress of Great Britain; founding member, Labour Party Black Socialist Society
Patrick Hebert, general secretary, UD-CGT-Force Ouvrière, Loire Atlantique
Jean-Philippe Katz, representative, UD-CGT-Force Ouvrière, Rhone
Jean-Paul Tual, representative, CGT Postal Workers Union, Cotes d'Armor
Daniel Gluckstein, national secretary, Workers Party; coordinator, International
Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples
Dominique Vincenot, International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal
Several people who had planned to be on the delegation were unable to participate at the last moment, and instead sent statements of support. These include:
4) Statement of U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Congress of the
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-0535
December 11, 2000
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Reno:
For almost twenty (20) years, Mumia Abu-Jamal has languished on death row in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Before, during and after his highly controversial trial, Mumia has been the target of a prosecution that has not hesitated to encroach upon his most fundamental civil rights.
Documentation of these transgressions was submitted to your office in January of this year by an international delegation seeking a fair and lawful trial of Mr. Abu-Jamal. At that time, senior representatives from your staff received the documents, acknowledged the gravity of the issues involved and promised a definitive response within a reasonable timeframe.
The delegation, augmented by several new members, representing an informed international community of parliamentarians, trade unionists, students, jurors, religious organizations and others, has again called upon the Department of Justice and will meet with several Deputy Attorneys General today, December 11, 2000. Its purpose is to obtain relief for Mumia Abu-Jamal and to have you exercise your broad discretionary authority to intervene as appropriate in this matter. I wholeheartedly support its efforts.
Recent studies conducted by your department, research organizations and several academic institutions have concluded that the administration of capital punishment in the United States and the state and federal level is systematically biased against the poor and people of color. The studies have also revealed a capital case prosecution system that is fraught with unacceptably high error rates leading to reversal, remand or release in two (2) of every three (3) cases. Mr. Abu-Jamal's case shares all the indicia of the error-tainted cases documented in the various studies, including that study conducted by the Department of Justice.
Your office bears a great responsibility in assuring that justice is the only concern in our criminal justice system. The case of Mumia Abu-Jamal demands the most contentious defense of the principles of the U.S. Constitution. Among these principles, the guarantee of a fair trial is indispensable to the well-being of our nation. Mr. Abu-Jamal has not received the treatment required by a dispassionate, objective adjudication of facts that are dispositive in his case.
I urge you to implement immediately those measures that will make available to Mr. Abu-Jamal the full array of constitutionally provided safeguards against the unlawful loss of life or liberty.
Member of Congress
5) Statement of Helio Bicurdo, chairman, Human Rights Commission, Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Organization of American StatesWashington, D.C. 20006 USA
December 6th, 2000
Ms. Janet Reno
United State of America Department of Justice
On Monday, December the 11th, an international delegation of trade unionists and human rights activists from Spain, Germany, Great Britain, France and from the United States requests to meet with you about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Pennsylvania death-row inmate, who is a famous journalist and human rights activist.
Unfortunately, I cannot participate in this delegation because I have to return to my country. But I know that Mumia Abu-Jamal was deprived of the right to a fair trial, and that his basic civil rights were violated. Those democratic rights re part of your Constitution and should be guaranteed to every American citizen.
That is why I request very respectfully, dear Madam Reno, your attention, and hope that you will be able to receive this International delegation on December the 11th, to hear them concerning their demand to the U.S. Department of Justice to open a federal investigation on the violations of Mumia Abu-Jamal's civil and constitutional rights.
I send you my best regards, signed/
Tuesday, December 12, 2000
(The following article was taken from the newspaper's website:
Mumia backers renew plea to Justice to review cop-killer's trial
by Craig Linder
States News Service
WASHINGTON - A group of supporters of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal met with U.S. Justice Department officials yesterday to urge a federal probe of their claim that the death-row inmate's civil rights were violated during his 1982 trial.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart Ishimaru assured the group that the Justice Department intends to consider the request.
A department spokeswoman only would confirm that the private meeting took place.
"We heard their concerns and will take them into account in any decision we would make," spokeswoman Kara Peterman said.
That would seem to be a step backward since January for the International Committee to Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal, when activists said Ishimaru committed to a Justice Department investigation of Abu-Jamal's trial.
"We went from a commitment to an intention - this is not a good sign," said Dennis O'Neil, a member of the delegation.
The case of Abu-Jamal, a former radio journalist who was sentenced to death for the 1981 Center City murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, has become a rallying point for opponents of the death penalty and those who see racism in the criminal justice system.
During their closed-door meeting with Ishimaru, the activists claimed that Abu-Jamal suffered widespread violations of his civil rights during his trial, citing the prosecutor's mention of Abu-Jamal's teenage membership in the Black Panther Party and other alleged irregularities.
"We have brought documentation of at least 29 violations of his civil rights," said Sam Jordan, an aide to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has thrown her support behind Abu-Jamal.
But Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham rejected those claims.
"In almost 20 years, this case has been to both the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the United States Supreme Court at least twice and there have been no findings of any violations," she said.
The petition to the Justice Department may be one of Abu-Jamal's last hopes for federal intervention as the Clinton administration cruises toward its final days next month.
If George W. Bush becomes the next president, activists fear that the Republican Texas governor, who has presided over dozens of executions, would do little to stop Abu-Jamal's.
In the 19 years since Faulkner was shot twice near the corner of 13th and Locust streets, the case against Abu-Jamal has seen nearly all corners of the criminal justice system.
His appeal, which has been refused at every level of the state court system, is currently pending before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and will eventually be heard by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
The U.S. Supreme Court could have the ultimate say in Abu-Jamal's fate, but it has refused two of his previous requests. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Gov. Ridge has signed two death warrants since the 1982 sentencing.
None of that, however, dissuades the activists who met with the Justice Department.
"We have to raise it a notch. We have to get members of Congress, we have to get the AFL-CIO," committee member Alan Benjamin said. "We're going to do whatever is needed to win this brother a new trial."
© 2000 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.