France on Thursday said it deplored the execution of Troy Davis in the southeastern US state of Georgia and reiterated its opposition to capital punishment.

"/> France on Thursday said it deplored the execution of Troy Davis in the southeastern US state of Georgia and reiterated its opposition to capital punishment.

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France deplores US execution

France on Thursday said it deplored the execution of Troy Davis in the southeastern US state of Georgia and reiterated its opposition to capital punishment.

France deplores US execution
World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (file)

Davis was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday after the failure of a last-ditch clemency bid. A high-profile campaign led by Amnesty International USA had struggled for years to spare him, saying his trial was deeply flawed.

“We strongly deplore that the numerous appeals for clemency were not heeded,” the French foreign ministry said.

France also stressed its opposition to the death penalty “wherever it takes place and whatever the circumstances.”

The statement, issued swiftly after the announcement that David was dead, underlined that “all judicial errors in the application (of the death penalty) are irreversible.”

“While two-thirds of nations throughout the world today renounce this punishment, in law or in practice, this case illustrates the need to continue the fight for universal and definitive abolition of the death penalty.”

The US state of Georgia executed Davis despite the international outcry over considerable doubts about his 1991 murder conviction.

Attorneys for Davis had cited new ballistics evidence and said misleading testimony had been used to convict him over the 1989 killing of off-duty policeman Mark MacPhail.

The last-ditch push to stay Davis’s execution had earlier been rejected twice at the state level, and the five-member Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday turned down his bid for clemency.

An unusually lengthy deliberation by the US Supreme Court delayed the process by more than four hours but the prison said Davis was pronounced dead after a lethal injection at 11:08 pm local time (0308 GMT Thursday).

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French students’ dream summer trip to United States ends in a nightmare

Two French students who planned to spend the summer volunteering on a ranch in the United States saw their dream turn into a nightmare as soon as they landed when they ended up being locked up and "treated like criminals".

French students' dream summer trip to United States ends in a nightmare
Photo: AFP

Olivane and Evan, two students from Brittany in western France, had arranged to spend two months volunteering on a horse ranch near Buffalo in the north eastern corner of the US,” France 3 reported.

They had organised with the owners of the ranch to work in exchange for food and lodgings, a practice known as “wwoofing” which is popular among students world-wide. 

The problem is the practice is illegal in the United States if, like the French students, you are travelling on a tourist visa, because it is considered “undeclared labour” (travaille dissimulé).

And even with a valid visa, websites warn that strict immigration rules in the US can spell problems for those foreign nationals wanting to volunteer on farms.

When the French students arrived in Philadelphia on June 28 ready for their “dream” summer, US border authorities quickly put a stop to their plans after becoming suspicious about their motives of travel.

“Homeland Security services found it strange that we were going to stay two months in the same place,” 21-year-old Olivane  (pic below – left) told Ouest France newspaper.

She said the pair were separated and questioned for several hours separately.

“They told me I didn’t have the right to enter American territory because for them I was going to carry out undeclared labour,” said Olivane.

Being barred from her dream summer job was a setback but what really shocked the young students was what happened next.

Olivane and Evan (see pic below right) said their hands were tied behind their backs before they had to suffer the “humiliation” of being walked through the airport terminal in front of other passengers and then taken off to a cell in a detention centre.

“I felt terrible. I wanted to tell people that we were not criminals and that it was just a problem with the Visa,” she said.

“We were placed in the back of a police vehicle, with security screens everywhere like in the movies,” she added.

The pair were told to “prepare psychologically” to be locked up in the detention centre.

“They said we would be safe, but it's going to be a bad moment,” said Olivane.

They said they were subject to full body searches, forced to strip almost naked, and then detained in various cells for 12 hours – Evan in a male unit and Olivane in a centre for women.

“We were treated like criminals,” she said.

They both claim they were injected with some kind of substance but had no idea what it was.

“Was it a vaccination or something to calm us?” said Olivane, who added both planned to visit a doctor to try to determine what the substance was.

The following day they were both put on a flight back to Paris. Meanwhile their worried families were frantically calling the French embassy in Washington as well as the country’s foreign ministry in Paris.

“The anguish only disappeared when we set foot back in France,” Olivane said.

The pair will no longer be able to return to the United States on a simple tourist visa and will have to go through a stricter process.

But they have no guarantee of being able to return to the US in the future, if they wanted to, that is.

While wwoofing might not be recognised in the US, judging by internet advice forums it’s clear it is still an experience that many young French people seek to undertake.

Much of the advice around wwoofing in the US on French internet sites concerns how to avoid raising suspicions of Homeland Security when you arrive in the country.

But anyone who wants to do it is urged to get a work visa.


Cover up and don't joke: France's travel warnings to US-bound tourists