Doughty Street team leads challenge to death penalty for intellectually disabled defendants

On 16th and 17th May 2016, the Privy Council will hear a landmark challenge to the imposition of the death sentence on defendants who suffer from such low IQ as to come within the internationally recognised diagnostic criteria for intellectual disability.  

The appeals, from Trinidad and Tobago, concern the cases of Lester Pitman and Neil Hernandez.  Pitman has an IQ of between 52 and 67.  Hernandez has an IQ of 57.  These scores place them below the 1st centile for the population as a whole.  The World Health Organisation classifies scores below 70 as constituting an intellectual disability.  Both men were sentenced to death following their conviction for murder.  Edward Fitzgerald QC, Ruth Brander and Daniella Waddoup of Doughty Street Chambers, together with Paul Bowen QC and Alison MacDonald, will argue that the imposition of the death sentence on intellectually disabled defendants such as Pitman and Hernandez is cruel and unusual punishment and that the common law prohibition on the execution of those of unsound mind must now be developed in line with international standards of human dignity to prohibit the sentencing to death of the intellectually disabled.

Read the media coverage here.

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