ICJ RULES AGAINST IMMINENT EXECUTION OF MEXICANS IN US
July 16, 2008: the International Court of Justice ordered the United States to do all it can to stay the imminent execution of five Mexicans on death row, granting an urgent request by Mexico.
But a US government lawyer said the ruling might be too late to save one prisoner, who is scheduled for execution early next month. "Their execution would cause irreparable prejudice to any rights... in question," said the order. Mexico had asked for a temporary stay of execution for five of its 51 nationals on death row in the United States.
It accused Washington of having ignored a 2004 order by the court to grant all the prisoners a review of their sentences. One prisoner has since had his execution scheduled for next month, while four others risk imminently having dates set with notice periods of between one and three months. All five are on death row in the state of Texas.
But a lawyer for the US government said Wednesday's ruling might not save the life of 33-year-old Jose Medellin, set to be executed on August 5 for the rape and murder of two teenage girls in Texas in 1993. The ruling, John Bellinger told journalists afterwards, "has the effect of affirming (our) international law obligation, but does not have technical legal effect in the United States."
If Texas were to carry out the execution, "it would be a violation of the international obligation on the United States but consistent with Texas law," Bellinger said. He cited a US Supreme Court ruling in March that "the means chosen by the president of the United States to comply (with the 2004 ICJ judgment) were unavailable under the US Constitution." And US lawmakers may not be able to pass legislation to rectify this in the near future, Bellinger said. (Sources: Agence France Presse, 16/07/2008)