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Amnesty International USA: Governor Rick Perry Must Halt Medellin Execution Immediately

August 4, 2008
2:30 PM

CONTACT: Amnesty International USA
Wende Gozan at 212-633-4247
or Brian Evans at 202-544-0200 x496

Governor Rick Perry Must Halt Medellin Execution Immediately,
Says Amnesty International
Texas Goes 'Beyond the Pale if it Insists on Going Forward' With Execution
WASHINGTON - August 4 - Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today urged Texas Governor Rick Perry to stay the execution of Josť Medellin to comply with a recent ruling from the International Court of Justice, or World Court. Medellin, a Mexican national who was never informed of his right to request consular assistance, is scheduled to be put to death tomorrow.

"It is imperative that Texas officials stay the execution of Josť Medellin not only because of the pending World Court decision, but also to take into account recent Congressional action on this issue," said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA. "Even President Bush, who signed scores of death warrants as Texas governor, concurred some time ago that the United States must honor its international obligations in this case. There will be no clearer sign that Texas will have gone beyond the pale than if Josť Medellin's execution goes forward."

The World Court last month ordered the U.S. government to "take all measures necessary" to halt the upcoming execution of five Mexican nationals in Texas until it makes a final judgment in a dispute over their consular rights. Medellin is the first of those scheduled to be put to death.

Texas officials acknowledge that Medellin was never told he could speak with a consular official from Mexico when he was arrested, but U.S. courts have ruled that this treaty right, which is enshrined in the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights (VCCR), cannot be invoked because Medellin never raised the issue during his original trial or sentencing. In March, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that this procedural bar trumped U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention, because Congress had not passed implementing legislation to give the VCCR domestic effect. Such implementing legislation has now been introduced in Congress, but will not become law before Medellin's scheduled execution.

"Flouting the World Court ruling would be yet another blight on America's already tarnished international reputation," said Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, director of AIUSA's Death Penalty Abolition Campaign. "Texas has a responsibility to respect U.S. commitments, particularly those which also serve to protect American citizens abroad. And in an era of increasing distrust over the United Statesí ability to use its power fairly and wisely, Governor Perry should seriously consider whether he wants his actions to further strain U.S. relationships with important allies."

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