ICJ rules US violated court order by executing Mexican national

[JURIST] The International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] Monday ruled [PDF text; ICJ materials] that the United States violated the court's March 2004 order when the state of Texas executed José Ernesto Medellin Rojas [Amnesty International backgrounder] in August last year. The ICJ held in Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America) [ICJ materials] that the US had breached its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations [PDF text] in denying 51 Mexican nationals, including Medellin, access to legal assistance from their consulate and that the US was obligated to "review and reconsider" the cases in light of this violation "by means of its choosing". Monday's decision [Reuters report] reaffirmed the "continuing binding character" of the previous order and declared that the US was in violation when it failed to review Medellin's case prior to his execution. By an 11-1 margin the court declined, however, to provide an interpretation of the order requested by Mexico in light of the Medellin's execution, saying

the matters claimed by the United Mexican States to be in issue between the Parties, requiring an interpretation under Article 60 of the Statute, are not matters which have been decided by the Court in its Judgment of 31 March 2004 in the case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), including paragraph 153 (9), and thus cannot give rise to the interpretation requested by the United Mexican States...
The court also declined Mexico's request that the US provide guarantees of non-repetition.

In February 2005, US President George W. Bush instructed the Texas courts [text; JURIST report] to comply with the ICJ's ruling in Avena. The US Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals [opinions] nonetheless ruled that Bush has no authority to direct state compliance [JURIST report]. Medellin, sentenced to death for raping and murdering two teenage girls, was executed [JURIST report] in Texas on August 5, 2008.


 

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