Mexico Awaits Hague Ruling on Citizens on U.S. Death Row (ADAM LIPTAK, 1/16/04, NY Times)

[Osbaldo Torres] is one of 52 Mexican citizens in eight states whose convictions and death sentences are being challenged by Mexico in the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Mexico says the United States violated a treaty guaranteeing that foreigners arrested in this country have access to representatives of their government.

The court ordered the United States last February not to kill Mr. Torres and two compatriots, at least until it issues its final ruling, which is expected to come in the spring.

None of the 52 Mexicans have been put to death. In Mr. Torres’s case, the Oklahoma attorney general asked a state appeals court in November to stay the execution “out of courtesy” to the international court. It was an unprecedented act of deference by an American official, legal experts said.

Mexico is seeking to void all 52 convictions and death sentences, contending that its citizens were denied the right to meet promptly with Mexican diplomats. The defendants should be retried, Mexico says, with statements obtained before such meetings excluded.

Mexico also asked the court to require that the United States honor these so-called consular rights in the future, perhaps by rewriting the standard Miranda warning given suspects before they are questioned by the police.

A ruling in Mexico’s favor would be most beneficial politically, allowing Mr. Bush to ignore it and go ahead with putting aliens to death, while Democrats would be forced to repudiate an instance of the transnationalism that they otherwise advocate.


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