On April 19, 2023, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a resolution to protect Michael Tisius, who is sentenced to death in Missouri. The IACHR issued the because they believe Michael is in a serious and urgent situation and his rights are at risk and they need more time to review the petition for precautionary measures.
This resolution alleges that the State of Missouri violated Michael's human rights. The petition argues that Michael's lifelong mistreatment and the details of his case show that Missouri violated several of Michael's rights under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and raises five of these claims:
The State didn't protect Michael from severe abuse and neglect when he was a child. Even though people required by law to report abuse knew what was happening, they didn't help Michael.
When Michael was being resentenced, the State used exaggerated evidence about his behavior in prison without explaining the context.
Michael's defense lawyer was incompetent and withheld important information that could have helped Michael.
Because Michael was so young and his brain is not fully developed, the State shouldn't execute him. This is because it's against his rights to be free from “cruel, infamous, or unusual punishment.”
Michael’s severe mental illness, neurocognitive dysfunctions, and history of trauma at the time of the offense makes the State of Missouri’s planned execution a violation of his right to life and his right to be free from "cruel, infamous, or unusual punishment."
Michael has been held on death row for more than 21 years at the Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri, and he faces the risk of execution, with a date set for June 6, 2023. It is alleged that his rights to due process, access to justice, and adequate defense were violated and that all available domestic remedies have been exhausted.
Time and time again, Missouri has fallen short in its duty to protect its most vulnerable citizens. Michael, who suffered abuse and neglect as a child, was only given attention from the state when he was sentenced to death at the young age of 20.
MADP Co-Director, Michelle Smith, states:
"Michael was a vulnerable 19-year-old who'd been abused and neglected his whole life, which left him completely susceptible to being groomed by an older man who showered Michael with the validation and concern he'd never received in life and was able to convince Michael to engage in wrongdoing, ultimately landing him on death row. In society today, the term 'groomer' is employed for political gain, often aiming to evoke strong emotions and horror. However, as the IACHR resolution highlights, Missouri's true concern for victims of grooming remains dubious."
Michael is an amazing person and remorseful for his actions. Executing a person for actions committed as a vulnerable, abused, and groomed teenager shows how our society and those in power are further failing Michael Tisius. The IACHR understands this and joins us in urging Governor Parson to show mercy and spare Michael from the death penalty.
The IACHR is an independent body of the Organization of American States (OAS), which promotes and defends human rights in the region. The IACHR requests that the United States adopt necessary measures to protect Michael's life and personal integrity and refrain from carrying out the execution until the IACHR has made a decision on his petition.
For more information on Michael’s clemency campaign and upcoming executions in Missouri, visit www.madpmo.org.