WASHINGTON -- March 28 -- Today, Dr. William F. Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA, released the following statement pertaining to oral arguments being made before the United States Supreme Court in the Medellin v. Dretke case, which focuses on whether the United States is fulfilling its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights (VCCR). Amnesty International USA co-authored an amicus brief arguing in favor of full compliance with the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) Avena decision:
The United States made a covenant with more than 100 nations, proclaiming that it will treat their citizens the same way the United States would want its citizens to be treated while traveling in their countries. But, the United States has repeatedly broken its word and is playing a very dangerous game with the lives of the roughly 6,000 Americans detained every year while traveling abroad.
In some instances, the only thing standing between torture and/or the death of U.S. citizens being detained is the ability to ask for assistance from American consular officials. By denying that same basic human right to foreign visitors, the United States could be condemning its citizens to the same fate. Moreover, it gravely undermines U.S. credibility and sends the message that the United States is a nation that only honors its commitments to its allies if and when it is convenient.
When the United States signed the optional protocol to the VCCR?without reservations?it ceded authority to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to settle matters between disputing nations. This provision was established as a binding safeguard for human rights.
Instead of shirking its duties, the United States should take clear, definitive actions to unequivocally demonstrate to the entire world that it is willing to follow the rule of law and to honor its binding international obligations. The best way to send that message is to comply with the Avena decision and provide a remedy that is full, fair and enforceable.