International Court of Justice Orders US to Stay 5 executions
The International Court of Justice has granted Mexico's request for an order to stay the execution of five Mexican citizens on death row in the U.S. Mexico had requested the U.N.'s highest court, commonly referred to as the World Court, to intervene because the United States has failed to comply with an earlier ICJ judgment ordering a hearing to review the trials of the Mexican citizens. The World Court ruled in 2004 that the U.S. violated the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations because it had not provided the Mexican inmates access to their home country's consular officials prior to their trials.
The ICJ held that the convictions and death sentences of 51 death row inmates required further review. President Bush acknowledged the judgment of the ICJ and ordered state courts to review the cases. Texas, however, refused, and the issue of the President's power went to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jose Medellin, one of the death row inmates in Texas and a Mexican citizen, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce the ICJ's ruling and the President's memorandum. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal on March 25, 2008, stating that Bush had overstepped his authority. The majority opinion stated that the Constitution, "allows the President to execute the laws, not make them."
The current ruling from the ICJ comes less than three weeks before the first of these inmates, Medellin, is scheduled for execution in Texas. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Attorney General Michael Mukasey jointly requested Texas Governor Rick Perry to review Medellin's case. Also, a bill has been introduced in Congress that would allow relief for those whose Vienna Convention rights have been violated (HR 6841).