The International Court of Justice condemns the USA in a death penalty case


The FIDH and its affiliates in the USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and in Mexico, the Mexican Commission for Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH) and the Mexican League for Defense of Human Rights (LIMEDDH), welcome the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) Judgment rendered on the 31th March in a death penalty case opposing the United States of America and Mexico.

The judgment states that the USA breached its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 by not informing 51 Mexican nationals without delay upon their detention of their right to communicate with and to be assisted by the consular officers of their state. The 51 persons concerned are presently still detained in the USA under a death penalty sentence.

On 9 January 2003 Mexico instituted proceedings against the USA in relation to the treatment of Mexican nationals who had been tried, convicted and sentenced to death in the United States. These Mexicans had not been informed without delay that they had the right to contact their consulate when arrested in the USA. In February 2003, the ICJ had ordered provisional measures to prevent the execution of the persons concerned .

According to the judgment of the ICJ, the USA must provide review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the 51 Mexicans.

« In its judgement, the International Court of Justice considers that executive clemency, as currently practised within the United States criminal justice system, does not suit the task of review and reconsideration of the cases - it can only supplement judicial review and reconsideration. This is in line with the FIDH opinion that the clemency process is standardless, secretive, unreviewable and does not provide the detainees with enough guarantees », said Sidiki Kaba, President of the FIDH.

The FIDH and its affiliates therefore urge the USA to comply with the ICJ’s decision by providing review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the 51 Mexicans currently held in death row.

The FIDH and its affiliates reiterate their condemnation of the death penalty in its principle and ask the Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States to declare this punishment unconstitutional.

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