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Mexican scheduled for execution despite violation of his basic consular rights

Mexican national Edgar Tamayo Arias was sentenced to death in a trial marred by substandard defense. He would have received adequate legal assistance funded by the Mexican Government had the latter been notified by the US authorities. Such notification is required under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), of which the United States is a Party. Tamayo Arias’s case is among those raised by Mexico before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the so-called Avena case (Mexico v. United States of America).

The ICJ found that the United States had violated the VCCR and ordered the USA to provide judicial review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences in these cases, including that of Tamayo Arias. The Parliamentary Assembly had previously urged the United States to implement the ICJ’s judgment. Tamayo Arias is nonetheless scheduled for execution, in Texas, on 22 January 2014, without any review of his case. At its meeting on 12 December 2013, the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights strongly endorsed Ms. Schuster’s views.

She said: “It as unacceptable that the United States of America, an Observer State of the Council of Europe, fails to implement a judgment of the International Court of Justice. The international rule of law requires that all states respect the rules to which they have voluntarily submitted. The violation of the VCCR found by the ICJ may well have been at the origin of a miscarriage of justice. The irreparable can still be avoided, by providing Tamayo Arias with the judicial review and reconsideration of his case, with the legal support the Mexican Government is eager to provide, as ordered by the ICJ. The US Government is internationally responsible for implementing the agreements entered into by the United States and cannot hide behind the unwillingness of individual States to play by the rules.”