Thursday, 7 August 2008

Mexico Protests Medellin Exeuction

Mexico Protests Medellin Exeuction

"Mexican government protests Texas execution," is the CNN report.

The United States violated international law by putting a Mexican national to death in Texas, the Mexican government said Wednesday.

Protesters for and against Jose Ernesto Medellin's execution gathered before he was put to death Tuesday night in Huntsville, Texas, for raping and murdering two teens in 1993.

His death ended 15 years of legal disputes on a sour note.

"The government of Mexico sent the U. S. Department of State a diplomatic note of protest for this violation of international law, expressing its concern for the precedent that it may create for the rights of Mexican nationals who may be detained in that country," the Mexican government said in a written statement.

"The Ministry of Foreign Relations reiterates that the importance of this case fundamentally stems from the respect to the right to consular access and protection provided by consulates of every state to each of its nationals abroad."


In June, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Attorney General Michael Mukasey asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry to delay the execution.

"We continue to seek a practical and timely way to carry out our nation's international legal obligation," wrote the Cabinet officers, "a goal that the United States needs the assistance of Texas to achieve."

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also asked Texas officials this week to delay the capital punishment.

Medellin's lawyers, who argued that Mexican consular officials were not able to meet with the man until after his conviction, condemned the execution.

"With this action, our nation has broken a commitment willingly made by our president and our Senate," the lawyers said in a written statement. "We must now hope that other nations stand stronger in their promises than we do, lest our own citizens be placed at risk elsewhere."

The Guardian has, "Texas ignores treaty to execute Mexican killer."

The Mexican government has now sent a note of protest to the US state department, expressing "its concern for the precedent that [the execution] may create for the rights of Mexican nationals".

In the Houston Chronicle, Rosanna Ruiz files, "Court defied critics in Medellin ruling."

In its rejection of Jose Ernesto Medellin's appeal, the Supreme Court made clear its refusal to bow to international pressure and its unwillingness to await related legislation that had not progressed beyond the "bare introduction of a bill."

Medellin, 33, was executed Tuesday night after an almost four-hour delay as Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials awaited the high court's 5-4 decision.

The majority opinion stated that neither President Bush nor Gov. Rick Perry had made clear to the court that congressional or Texas legislative action was likely that would necessitate a delay. The court also noted that the Department of Justice had not sought to intervene in the case.


The inaction by Congress and the Texas Legislature was consistent, the court said, with Bush's decision to withdraw from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in 2005.

Legislation requires more time, and it only became apparent when the High Court ruled in March that such action was necessary to mandate hearings in the death row cases, said Sarah Cleveland, a Columbia Law School professor.

The issue first was raised in 2004, when the United Nations' International Court of Justice ruled that hearings should be held to determine whether the cases of Medellin and 50 other Mexican nationals on death row in the United States were harmed by not being allowed access to their consular officials.

"The majority opinion reads as if there wasn't any expectation that the U.S. would comply with the ICJ's judgment," Cleveland said. "It doesn't put the U.S. in a good light, particularly because the executive branch tried to convey the opposite message."

Earlier coverage is here. Tuesday evening's Supreme Court ruling, and the dissenting opinions, are in Adobe .pdf format here, via SCOTUS Blog. More on Medellin I and Medellin II, via Earlier coverage of Medellin v. Texas (Medellin II) is here.

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