July 16, 2008
U.S. Should Not Execute Mexicans on Death Row
The US has been advised not to execute five Mexican nationals on death row by the International Court of Justice. The BBC reports:
The ICJ - the UN's highest court - had previously ruled that the men had been denied the right to help from their consulate after their arrests.
A 2005 ruling by President George W Bush that the cases should be reviewed was overturned by the US Supreme Court.
But the Hague-based court told the US it should not execute the men before it made its final judgement.
In a majority ruling, the ICJ said the US should "take all measures necessary to ensure (they) are not executed pending judgment... unless and until these five Mexican nationals receive review and reconsideration (of their sentences)".
Jorge Lomonaco Tonda, representing Mexico at the court, said: "The Mexican government is satisfied with the ruling of the court... we have full confidence that the ruling will be applied."
The five are among 51 Mexicans on death row in the United States who were not told after arrest that they were entitled to assistance from Mexican consulates - in violation of the 1963 Vienna Convention.
All five are currently on death row in Texas. Click here for the rest of the story.
July 16, 2008 | Permalink
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference U.S. Should Not Execute Mexicans on Death Row:
Texas will go ahead with the scheduled Aug. 5 execution of Houston rapist-killer Jose Medellin despite Wednesday's United Nations world court order for a stay, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry said.
The U.N.'s International Court of Justice's call for stays in the cases of Medellin and four other Mexican nationals awaiting execution in Texas came in response to a petition filed last month by the Mexican government.
The petition sought to halt executions to allow for review of the killers' cases to determine whether denying them access to the Mexican Consulate after arrest impaired their trial defenses.
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations stipulates that, upon request, an alien offender's national consulate must be notified of his arrest.
In its order, the world court quotes the Mexican government's argument that "Texas has made clear that unless restrained, it will go forward with the execution without providing Mr. Medellin the mandated review and reconsideration," which will "irreparably" breach the U.S. government's obligations to the court's 2004 order.
The Mexican government reasons that "the paramount interest in human life is at stake," according to the court's order. If Medellin and the other nationals are executed without additional court reviews, "Mexico would forever be deprived of the opportunity to vindicate its rights and those of the nationals concerned."
Perry's office dismissed the argument.
"The world court has no standing in Texas and Texas is not bound by a ruling or edict from a foreign court," Perry spokesman Robert Black said. "It is easy to get caught up in discussions of international law and justice and treaties. It's very important to remember that these individuals are on death row for killing our citizens."
But international law expert Sarah Cleveland, a professor of human and constitutional rights at New York City's Columbia Law School, said if the U.S. fails to act on the world court order, other countries may follow suit.
"This can only come back to hurt U.S. citizens when they are detained abroad," she wrote in an e-mail. " ... When a global leader like the U.S. refuses to comply with its clear international legal obligations (and everyone agrees that this is a clear legal obligation), it undermines the willingness of other states to comply with their own obligations and it inspires them not to trust us to obey ours."
Deadly gang initiation
Medellin, 33, was condemned for the 1993 killings of Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Peña, 16, who stumbled into a drunken midnight gang initiation rite at T.C. Jester Park in northwest Houston.
One of Medellin's accomplices, Derrick O'Brien, was executed in July 2006. Also sentenced to die is gang leader Peter Anthony Cantu. Three other accomplices are serving prison sentences. Medellin was the only non-American involved in the murders.
Wednesday's U.N. court decision in The Hague, Netherlands, was the latest development in an ongoing legal wrangle that has involved President Bush, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Mexican government.
In 2004, the U.N. court ordered a review of the cases of 51 Mexican nationals facing execution in the United States because they had not been allowed to speak with their nation's consular officials.
In February 2005, Bush directed state courts to abide by the U.N. court decision, specifically asking Texas to review Medellin's case.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Bush had overstepped his authority. Chief Justice John Roberts said the president cannot order such court reviews without congressional concurrence.
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., filed a bill providing for such reviews. As of Wednesday, it was in committee.
Weeks after the Supreme Court's ruling, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey jointly wrote Perry asking for his help in obtaining the reviews.
The United States, they wrote, continues to be bound by the world court's decision under international law.
Girls' fathers adamant
Meanwhile, Randy Ertman, father of Jennifer Ertman, hotly denounced the world court's order for stays.
"The world court don't mean diddly," he said. "This business belongs in the state of Texas. The people of the state of Texas support the execution. We thank them. The rest of them can go to hell."
Adolfo Peña, father of Elizabeth Peña, agreed.
"I believe we've been through all the red tape we can go through," he said. "It's time to rock and roll."
Posted by: Carlos Morales-Turdli | Jul 17, 2008 7:45:35 PM
The Hague Court rulings have no standing in this country and the states will rightly dispatch these wretches on schedule, sending another message to Mexico that we won't stand for their interference in our internal affairs.
Posted by: Horace | Jul 17, 2008 8:17:31 PM