World Court begins deliberations on case involving Mexicans on death row in US

24 December 2003

With the conclusion of public hearings in a case Mexico brought against the United States over the rights of death row prisoners, judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) have begun deliberations on their ruling.

Mexico claims that the US broke its legal obligations to its neighbour when it did not inform 52 Mexican nationals of their right to contact their consular representatives “without delay” after their arrest. All the detainees are awaiting capital punishment after being convicted of serious crimes.

Mexico claims that this is a breach of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and wants the US to annul the convictions and sentences or, failing that, to provide a “meaningful and effective review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences.”

The US wants the Court to dismiss Mexico’s claim. Washington says that it has conformed its conduct to an earlier ICJ decision, known as the LaGrand case, about the treatment of detained foreign nationals.

In that 2001 ruling, the Court found that the US had breached its obligations to Germany and to Karl and Walter LaGrand – two German nationals who faced the death penalty – under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

No date has been set for the ICJ to issue its judgment, which is binding and cannot be appealed.


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