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Old 04-01-2004, 03:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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International Court Orders U.S. to Review Mexican Cases

Quote:
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The world court ruled Wednesday that the United States violated the rights of 51 Mexicans on death row to receive diplomatic help, and ordered Washington to review their cases.

The ruling by the International Court of Justice could mean a reprieve or another chance of appeal for the inmates, including one scheduled to die May 18 in Oklahoma. It also could have implications for other foreign citizens in U.S. prisons who were not told they could receive help from their governments.

The order raised questions from the eight states holding the inmates, but no assurances that the states will try to address the court's concerns.

Some states were seeking advice Wednesday from the U.S. State Department, but several officials said they doubted the ruling would affect their execution plans. Officials in Oklahoma and Texas, where three of the Mexican inmates are on death row, said no immediate action was being taken in those cases.

"I don't see the world court as being the same as the U.S. Supreme Court, where we'd immediately have to jump and say we'll do it," said Nevada Deputy Attorney General Dave Neidert.

U.S. officials will study the decision carefully, said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, adding that the United States has tried to comply with the requirement that consular access be granted to Mexican and other citizens detained on U.S. soil.

It was the second time the highest U.N. court has ruled the United States broke the 1963 Vienna Convention, which protects foreigners accused of serious crimes. In 2001, Arizona ignored a court order to stay the execution of a German citizen.

Although the court dealt specifically with the cases of 52 Mexicans, it cautioned the principle should apply to all foreigners imprisoned for serious crimes. There are 121 foreign citizens on U.S. death row, 55 of whom are Mexican, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

It would be wrong to assume the court's conclusions "in the present judgment do not apply to other foreign nationals finding themselves in similar situations in the United States," said the ruling by a 15-member panel.

The court backed virtually all of Mexico's main arguments, presented in December.

"The U.S. should provide by means of its own choosing meaningful review of the conviction and sentence" of the Mexicans, presiding judge Shi Jiuyong said.

Shi said the review, in all but three cases, could be carried out under the normal appeals process in the United States.

Arturo Dager, a legal adviser with Mexico's Foreign Relations Department, said the court's findings were "a triumph of international law."

"Mexico was not vindicated. The rule of international law was vindicated. Of course we are confident the United States will fully comply with the ruling," added Mexican Ambassador Juan Gomez Robledo.

David Sergi, who represents Texas prisoner Roberto Ramos, said the ruling "will give us a chance to litigate a lot of issues that were not addressed at trial." He said it could lead to a retrial or at least a sentencing review for his client.

For the three defendants who have exhausted all appeals, the United States should make an exception and review their cases one last time, the court said.

If the United States doesn't abide by the ruling, Mexico intends to take further legal steps, according to a Mexican diplomat. Countries that fail to comply with court rulings can be referred to the U.N. Security Council for "appropriate action," according to the court's statute.

Even if Washington accepts the decision, it's unclear if federal authorities have the power to enforce it or compel individual states to abide by it.

In hearings in December, lawyers for Mexico argued that any U.S. citizen accused of a serious crime abroad would want the same right, and the only fair solution for the men allegedly denied diplomatic help was to start their legal processes all over again.

The United States had argued the case was a sovereignty issue, and that the 15-judge tribunal should be wary of allowing itself to be used as a criminal appeals court, which is not its mandate.

Besides Ramos, the court ordered a special review for fellow Texas inmate Cesar Fierro, and Osbaldo Aguilera Torres, in Oklahoma. Torres is set to be executed on May 18.

Fierro was convicted of shooting a taxi driver to death, Ramos was convicted of killing his wife and two children with a hammer, and Torres was convicted of killing two people during a burglary.

Mark Henrickson, who handled Torres' appeals, said he hopes Oklahoma will comply with the ruling and that his client will be given a new trial.

"The U.S. frequently asks that nations abide by international law and I think we need to abide by international law," Henrickson said.

But Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry plans no action in the case until after a May 7 clemency hearing before the state's Pardon and Parole Board.

Other Mexicans are on death row in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Oregon.

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to be drawn into the international debate over foreigners on death row. In November, the court declined to hear an appeal from Torres, although two of its more liberal members - Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice John Paul Stevens - had misgivings.

Mexico does not have the death penalty. In 2002, Mexican President Vicente Fox canceled a visit to President Bush's ranch in Texas to protest the state's execution of convicted police killer Javier Suarez Medina, a Mexican national. The Supreme Court had refused to hear his appeal.

It is the third time the United States was brought before the court over death penalties imposed against foreign nationals.

Germany lodged a suit in 1999, seeking a ruling on the execution of two German brothers, convicted for murder after a botched robbery. Karl LaGrand was executed before the court could intervene. His brother, Walter, was executed later despite the decision.

Paraguay filed suit against the United States in 1998 to stop the execution of its citizen, Angel Francisco Breard, on Virginia's death row for murder and attempted rape in 1992. It withdrew the case, also based on the Vienna Convention, after Breard was executed.
This seems like a huge waste of time and money to me. We have an appeal system -- why on earth do we need to implement a "one more time" appeal for foreigners? It's not going to happen, and the UN Security council (of which we are on, and have veto power in) is unable to do anything about it. Seems to me that they (the ICJ) is trying to justify their existence.
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Old 04-01-2004, 04:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: International Court Orders U.S. to Review Mexican Cases

Quote:
Originally posted by seretogis
This seems like a huge waste of time and money to me. We have an appeal system -- why on earth do we need to implement a "one more time" appeal for foreigners? It's not going to happen, and the UN Security council (of which we are on, and have veto power in) is unable to do anything about it. Seems to me that they (the ICJ) is trying to justify their existence.
According to international law, foreigners that are in legal trouble should be allowed help from their country's officials. The fact that the US did not inform these people of their rights is a breach of these international laws. It's got nothing to do with a "one more time" appeal, it's simply part of international treaties the US agreed with.

If an inquiry shows that these mexicans weren't properly represented (if they had bad lawyers, for example), there should indeed be a chance to appeal. After all, their rights were violated.

As for the UN security council: they have *nothing* to do with this, so leave them out of it. One cannot veto a ICJ ruling.

Just as an example: suppose you're arrested in Iran. Would you not like your government to assist you during your trial? Suppose you weren't even told you could ask for such support, and, because you have no idea how the Iranian justice system works, you end up getting a life sentence (or worse)... I'd say you'd be pretty pissed off, as would the US government.
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Old 04-01-2004, 05:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Re: International Court Orders U.S. to Review Mexican Cases

Quote:
Originally posted by Dragonlich
As for the UN security council: they have *nothing* to do with this, so leave them out of it. One cannot veto a ICJ ruling.
I was referring to this part of the article, which implies that the UN security council is in charge of enforcing the ICJ rulings, which will never happen as long as the US has veto power:

Quote:
If the United States doesn't abide by the ruling, Mexico intends to take further legal steps, according to a Mexican diplomat. Countries that fail to comply with court rulings can be referred to the U.N. Security Council for "appropriate action," according to the court's statute.
As for the rest, these people are being executed by individual states which have their own government and their own legal system. The Vienna Convention, as far as I know, would apply only to Federal prisoners, not state prisoners. The ICJ is attempting to interfere in local government, which is what I find absurd.

Also refer to:

Quote:
Even if Washington accepts the decision, it's unclear if federal authorities have the power to enforce it or compel individual states to abide by it.
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Last edited by seretogis; 04-01-2004 at 05:50 AM..
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Old 04-01-2004, 06:07 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Internationally there is no distinction between a foreigner being tried by the state or federal government. All foreigners are entitled to assistance and representation from their government.

If a region of Iran was putting you on trial rather than the leadership, wouldn't you still want Iran to allow you to solicit help from America?
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Old 04-01-2004, 06:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
If a region of Iran was putting you on trial rather than the leadership, wouldn't you still want Iran to allow you to solicit help from America?
Allowing you to solicit help is different from informing them that they can solicit help, in my opinion.

Additionally, to me, there is some question about whether it would have made any difference in the cases. Would their countries have offered help? Would that help have made one iota of difference? I don't know, but there should be a review of the cases and, if warranted, new trials.
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Old 04-01-2004, 06:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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And it doesn't matter IF Mexico would offer help. The important thing is noone was given the option.

All 50 states are still part of the United States of America last time I checked, and that means they (and their legal systems) must abide by any treaties and agreements The Federal enters into.

Last edited by Superbelt; 04-01-2004 at 06:48 AM..
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Old 04-01-2004, 06:57 AM   #7 (permalink)
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exactly.
i may be off the mark, but this seems like another wonderful show of hypocracy on behalf of the U.S. 'as long as everyone else abides by international law, thats ok, but we'll be damned if we do'.

anyway, beyond the rant.

i have no doubt that at least some of the men accused of those crimes are guilty, but thats not the point. the point is that there is a due process to undergo set out by international law. america, as the only superpower, should be setting an example to the rest of the world of how to go about doing this, instead of doing things how they want, and expecting everyone else to not make a fuss.

the problem is this damn veto power, america knows it's likely to get it's way, and i bet you they're pretty much unphased by it all, which, of course, doesn't help much either.
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Old 04-01-2004, 07:08 AM   #8 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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I think that's probrably the UN's biggest problem, the Veto power for the permanent security council members.

Any one nation of the big 5 can stonewall whatever they want with it.
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Old 04-01-2004, 07:47 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
I think that's probrably the UN's biggest problem, the Veto power for the permanent security council members.

Any one nation of the big 5 can stonewall whatever they want with it.
..which leads back to my "This seems like a huge waste of time and money to me" statement. The UN and the ICJ has no power or authority, and frankly, I'm glad they don't. However, I dont' think we should be wasting time or money on either.
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Old 04-01-2004, 07:51 AM   #10 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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Which could be rectified if the US led a campaign to strip all 5 of us of Veto power.
I think we would have a good shot at this since we use it almost exclusively.
An even better shot if we threaten to quit the UN and take our money with us otherwise.
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Old 04-01-2004, 07:54 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt

An even better shot if we threaten to quit the UN and take our money with us otherwise.
How bout we just quit the UN and take our money with us anyway?
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Old 04-01-2004, 08:02 AM   #12 (permalink)
This vexes me. I am terribly vexed.
 
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Location: Grantville, Pa
Because it is not in americas best interests to be isolationist anymore.

As wealthy, world leaders and being so dependent on world stability to protect that status/position. We need international arbitration groups to work through.

It distributes costs for international actions and deflects the charge of unilateral empire building when it is used.
(i.e. our two biggest problems doing Iraq alone.)
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Old 04-01-2004, 08:30 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Location: NJ
Quote:
Originally posted by Superbelt
Because it is not in americas best interests to be isolationist anymore.

As wealthy, world leaders and being so dependent on world stability to protect that status/position. We need international arbitration groups to work through.

It distributes costs for international actions and deflects the charge of unilateral empire building when it is used.
(i.e. our two biggest problems doing Iraq alone.)
>>edit<<

Nevermind, not worth hijacking the thread over.
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Last edited by onetime2; 04-01-2004 at 08:38 AM..
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