UN World Court orders United States to stay executions of Mexican nationals

16 July 2008

The principal judicial organ of the United Nations today ordered the United States to delay the executions of five Mexican nationals on death row in its prisons until the court issues a final ruling on the matter.

In a seven to five vote, judges sitting on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said the US must “take all measures necessary” to ensure that the five men are not executed before the final ruling, unless and until their cases are reviewed and reconsidered in line with a 2004 ruling on the same issue by the ICJ.

The court found then that the US had been in breach of its international obligations because authorities did not inform 51 Mexican nationals of their right to contact their consular representatives “without delay” after being arrested.

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, found the US had breached several obligations contained in the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and said the US should review and reconsider the convictions and sentences.

Mexico applied to the court last month for a stay in the executions of five of the 51 nationals. One man, José Ernesto Medellín Rojas, is scheduled to be executed in Texas on 5 August. Four others – César Roberto Fierro Reyna, Rubén Ramirez Cárdenas, Humberto Leal García and Roberto Moreno Ramos – could soon receive execution dates.

Mexico said requests by the men for review and reconsideration of their cases have repeatedly been denied.

The ICJ also ruled, by 11 votes to one, that the US shall inform the court of the measures it is taking to implement today’s order. The World Court’s judgments are binding and cannot be appealed.


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