July 22, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Reporters Without Borders objects to the decision to ban Mumia Abu Jamal from a new sentencing hearing

On Tuesday July 19th, 2011, Reporters Without Borders wrote a letter to Seth Williams, the Philadelphia District Attorney. In the letter, Reporters Without Borders asks Williams to drop his appeal to the decision the U.S. Court of Appeals handed down in April 2011 that awarded convicted Mumia Abu-Jamal a new sentencing hearing. Reporters Without Borders has been advocating for Mumia Abu Jamal for many years. Abu Jamal was a reporter known to be “the Voice of the Voiceless”, which played an important part in his sentencing in 1982. __________________________________ Dear Mr. Williams, Reporters Without Borders, an international organization defending media rights and journalists worldwide, is alarmed by your decision to appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals ruling awarding convicted Mumia Abu Jamal a new sentencing hearing. It has been widely acknowledged that, 29 years ago, his trial was not fair, bathed with racism and wrong testimonies. When a citizen is victim of an unfair trial, Justice has not been done and the judicial system shall admit it. All the more when a jury is mislead, as it has been acknowledged by the a federal Court in Philadelphia on April 26th, 2011 when it granted a new sentencing hearing to Mumia Abu Jamal. We believe that it is enough to show how wrong the sentence can be. We therefore don’t understand your determination to advocate in favor of the death penalty and are asking you to withdraw your appeal. We all agree, as Maureen Faulkner said, “if the courts don't believe there should be a death penalty, they should just say that”. This sentencing hearing was a way of getting another opinion on the sentence, if not on the trial itself. We have been advocating for Mumia Abu Jamal for the past years because we are convinced of the fact that he was a reporter and known to be “the Voice of the Voiceless” played an important part in his sentencing in 1982. Because he was still writing and expressing himself, it had an impact on the decision. We actually witness it worldwide on the sentences given to reporters: because they have the power and responsibility to publish information, they have the power to shape the opinion and often, the sentences they get are disproportionate because of this power. Your decision to appeal can also affect a dozen of other cases. We are asking you not to seek revenge but Justice and will be glad to discuss the matter with you and your client if needed. Sincerely, Jean-Francois Julliard
Secretary General
Reporters Without Borders