Wed, Mar. 31, 2004

Systemic U.S. Violations of Vienna Convention

CK - Washington.   Today, the International Court of Justice decided the matter of Avena and Other Mexican Nationals between Mexico and the United States of America in favor of Mexico after finding persistent and systemic violations by the United States system of justice. Links to the various opinions by the justices are at Findlaw's database of the case history.

The instant case, number 128, concerns the mandates of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention of April 24, 1963 which also protects American citizens abroad by requiring that foreign arrests of Americans be reported to the American consul, among other things.

The United States opposed the complaint by referring to its change of practices after the ICJ case LaGrande (Germany v. United States of America) which related to German citizens executed in the United States without consular notification. Mexico's complaint involves similar circumstances affecting 52 Mexican citizens arrested and convicted in nine states of the United States in violation of the Convention.

The court disagreed with the United States procedurally and substantively, except for one vote. With 14 votes, it found the United States to violate systemically and persistently the Convention through various, major flaws in its criminal justice system.




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