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MEXICO VS US

Mexico v. United States of America, formally Avena and Other Mexican Nationals, was a case before
the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of theUnited Nations. It was decided on 31 March 2004, finding that
the United Stateshad breached its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in not
allowing representation from Mexico to meet with Mexican citizens arrested and imprisoned for crimes in the
United States.

An order indicating provisional measures in the case of Mr. Jos Ernesto Medelln Rojas was entered on 16
July 2008, and on 19 January 2009 the ICJ found that the United States breached its obligations under the 16
July order, but also that the Statute of the International Court of Justice "does not allow it to consider possible
violations of the Judgment which it is called upon to interpret."[1][2]

In the subsequent domestic American litigation in Medelln v. Texas, the United States Supreme
Court (the court of last resort concerning federal rights and international obligations) held that the United
States Congress had not implemented laws to enable redress of violations of the Vienna Convention on
Consular Relations, or to enable enforcement of decisions of the International Court of Justice, and hence
the President of the United States could not do so.

On 9 January 2003, the sovereign nation of Mexico filed a lawsuit against its neighbor, the United States of
America, on the accusations that the U.S. had violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by
arresting, detaining, trying, convicting, and sentencing 54 Mexican nationals to death row without allowing
Mexico its international legal obligations in accordance with Articles 5 and 36 of the Vienna Convention. In
light of the violation committed by the United States, Mexico demanded that the U.S. must restore the status
quo ante and take the necessary steps to ensure that the rights afforded under Article 36 are provided.
Mexico also submitted a request to the court indicating provisional measures in order to protect the rights of
its citizens after the final judgment in the case, including that the government of the United States must
ensure that no Mexican national be executed or have an execution date set for a Mexican national.

The United States admitted that in certain cases, Mexican nationals have been prosecuted and sentenced
without being informed of their rights, but in other cases, in accordance with the ICJs judgment in
the LaGrand case, the U.S. had an obligation by means of its own choosing, (to) allow the review and
consideration of the conviction and sentence by taking account of the violation of the rights set forth in that
Convention. In those cases, review and reconsideration had already occurred throughout the last two years.
The U.S. also pointed out that if the court passed Mexicos request to halt execution for its nationals, it would
install a sweeping prohibition on capital punishment in the United States for any and all Mexican nationals,
thus interfering in the U.S.s sovereign rights and moreover will transform the court into a general criminal
court of appeal.

Of the 54 cases presented in front on the court, three were brought to the attention of the Court. Three
Mexican nationals, Csar Roberto Fierro Reyna, Roberto Moreno Ramos, and Osvaldo Torres Aguilera were at
risk of execution in the next few months, even possibly weeks. The court recognized that their execution
would cause irreparable prejudice in the case and implemented provisional measures by prohibiting the
United States to proceed with their execution pending the final judgment in the case.

At the beginning of the proceedings, the United States raised several objections over the jurisdiction of the
court as well as admissibility, each dismissed by the court as being a matter for the merits. In the first of
Mexicos submissions, it asked the court to declare that:

the United States of America, in arresting, detaining, trying, convicting, and

sentencing the 52 Mexican nationals on death row described in Mexicos Memorial, violated its international
legal obligations to Mexico, in its own right and in the exercise of its right to diplomatic protection of its
nationals, by failing to inform, without delay, the 52 Mexican nationals after their arrest of their right to
consular notification and access under Article 36 (1) (b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, and
by depriving Mexico of its right to provide consular protection and the 52 nationals right to receive such
protection as Mexico would provide under

Article 36 (1) (a) and (c) of the Convention.

There were two major issues under Article 36 that were being disputed between the two parties: the question
of the nationalities of the individuals being executed as well as the meaning of the expression without delay
as used in the subparagraph.

The court wanted Mexico to produce document proof that each of the individuals presented in the case held
Mexican nationalities during the time of their arrest, such as birth certificates or declarations of nationality,
which will not be challenged by the United States. The U.S. in turn had to produce proof that showed the
persons of Mexican nationality were also United States citizens. In closer examination of the cases, the court
revealed that in 45 of them, there was no evidence that the arrested individual claimed U.S. nationality or
were reasonably thought to be U.S. nationals. Of the seven cases, Mexico failed to prove the violation in only
one. In another case, the court found that the individual was informed of their rights under Article 36 but had
declined to have his consular post notified.

After months of debate, the court concluded that in 51 of the cases, excluding those of Csar Roberto Fierro
Reyna, Roberto Moreno Ramos, and Osvaldo Torres Aguilera, the United States had breached their obligation
as set forth under Article 36 paragraph 1 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by not informing the
appropriate Mexican consular post without delay. By not doing so, the U.S. had also deprived Mexico of the
right to provide assistance to its nationals. In regards to Csar Roberto Fierro Reyna, Roberto Moreno Ramos,
and Osvaldo Torres Aguilera, by not allowing a review and reconsideration of their convictions and sentences,
the United States also violated Article 36, paragraph 2 of the convention. As reparation in this case, the United
States of America must provide review and reconsideration of convictions and sentences of the Mexican
nationals and implement specific measures to ensure non-repetition.

Avena and Other Mexican Nationals


(Mexico v. United States of America)
The Court finds that the United States of America has breached its obligations
to Mr. Avena and 50 other Mexican nationals and to Mexico
under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

THE HAGUE, 31 March 2004. Today the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United
Nations, delivered its Judgment in the case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of
America).

In its Judgment, which is final, without appeal and binding on the Parties, the Court, with regard to the merits of
the dispute,

- finds by fourteen votes to one that, by not informing, without delay upon their detention, the 51 Mexican nationals
referred to in paragraph 106 (1) above of their rights under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the Vienna Convention on
Consular Relations of 24 April 1963, the United States of America breached the obligations incumbent upon it under that
subparagraph;

- finds by fourteen votes to one that, by not notifying the appropriate Mexican consular post without delay of the
detention of the 49 Mexican nationals referred to in paragraph 106 (2) above and thereby depriving the United Mexican
States of the right, in a timely fashion, to render the assistance provided for by the Vienna Convention to the individuals
concerned, the United States of America breached the obligations incumbent upon it under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b);

- finds by fourteen votes to one that, in relation to the 49 Mexican nationals referred to in paragraph 106 (3) above,
the United States of America deprived the United Mexican States of the right, in a timely fashion, to communicate with
and have access to those nationals and to visit them in detention, and thereby breached the obligations incumbent upon
it under Article 36, paragraph 1 (a) and (c), of the Convention;

- finds by fourteen votes to one that, in relation to the 34 Mexican nationals referred to in paragraph 106 (4) above,
the United States of America deprived the United Mexican States of the right, in a timely fashion, to arrange for legal
representation of those nationals, and thereby breached the obligations incumbent upon it under Article 36,
paragraph 1 (c), of the Convention;

- finds by fourteen votes to one that, by not permitting the review and reconsideration, in the light of the rights set
forth in the Convention, of the conviction and sentences of Mr. Csar Roberto Fierro Reyna, Mr. Roberto Moreno Ramos
and Mr. Osvaldo Torres Aguilera, after the violations referred to in subparagraph (4) above had been established in
respect of those individuals, the United States of America breached the obligations incumbent upon it under Article 36,
paragraph 2, of the Convention;

- finds by fourteen votes to one that the appropriate reparation in this case consists in the obligation of the United
States of America to provide, by means of its own choosing, review and reconsideration of the convictions and
sentences of the Mexican nationals referred to in subparagraphs (4), (5), (6) and (7) above, by taking account both of the
violation of the rights set forth in Article 36 of the Convention and of paragraphs 138 to 141 of this Judgment;

- unanimously takes note of the commitment undertaken by the United States of America to ensure implementation
of the specific measures adopted in performance of its obligations under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the Vienna
Convention; and finds that this commitment must be regarded as meeting the request by the United Mexican States for
guarantees and assurances of non-repetition;

- unanimously finds that, should Mexican nationals nonetheless be sentenced to severe penalties, without their rights
under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the Convention having been respected, the United States of America shall provide,
by means of its own choosing, review andreconsideration of the conviction and sentence, so as to allow full weight to be
given to the violation of the rights set forth in the Convention, taking account of paragraphs 138 to 141 of this
Judgment.

Reasoning of the Court

In its Judgment the Court begins by outlining the history of the case. It recalls that on 9 January 2003
Mexico instituted proceedings against the United States of America in a dispute concerning alleged breaches of
Articles 5 and 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 24 April 1963 in relation to the treatment of a
number of Mexican nationals who had been tried, convicted and sentenced to death in criminal proceedings in the
United States. The original claim related to 54 such persons, but as a result of subsequent adjustments by Mexico, only
52 individual cases are involved. On 9 January 2003 Mexico also asked the Court to indicate provisional measures, and
in particular to order the United States to take all measures necessary to ensure that no Mexican national was executed
pending a final decision of the Court. On 5 February 2003 the Court unanimously adopted an Order indicating such
measures, stating inter alia that the United States of America shall take all measures necessary to ensure that
Mr. Csar Roberto Fierro Reyna, Mr. Roberto Moreno Ramos and Mr. Osvaldo Torres Aguilera . . . are not executed
pending final judgment in these proceedings.

The Court then examines four objections of the United States to the Court's jurisdiction and five to the
admissibility of the claims of Mexico. It rejects those objections after first having rejected the objection of Mexico to the
admissibility of the United States objections.

Ruling on the merits of the case, the Court first addresses the question of whether the 52 individuals concerned
had Mexican nationality only, or whether some of them were also United States nationals, as claimed by that
State. Concluding that the United States has not proved that claim, the Court finds that the United States did have
obligations (to provide consular information) under Article 36, paragraph 1 (b), of the Vienna Convention towards the
52 Mexican nationals.

The Court then examines the meaning of the expression without delay used in paragraph 1 (b) of Article 36. It
finds that the duty to provide consular information exists once it is realized that the person is a foreign national, or once
there are grounds to think so, but considers that, in the light inter alia of the Convention's travaux prparatoires the
term without delay is not necessarily to be interpreted as meaning immediately upon arrest. The Court then
concludes that, on the basis of this interpretation, the United States has nonetheless violated its obligation to provide
consular notification in all of the cases save one.

The Court then takes note of the interrelated nature of the three subparagraphs (a), (b) and (c) of paragraph 1 of
Article 36 of the Vienna Convention and finds, in 49 of the cases, that the United States has also violated its obligation
under subparagraph (a) to enable Mexican consular officers to communicate with, have access to and visit their
nationals; while, in 34 cases, it finds that the United States has also, in addition, violated its obligation under
subparagraph (c) to enable Mexican consular officers to arrange for legal representation of their nationals.

The Court then turns to Mexico's submission in relation to paragraph 2 of Article 36, whereby it claims that the
United States violated its obligations under that paragraph by failing to provide meaningful and effective review and
reconsideration of convictions and sentences impaired by a violation of Article 36 (1), inter alia as a result of the
operation of the procedural default rule. The Court begins by observing that the procedural default rule has not been
revised since it drew attention in its Judgment in the LaGrand case to the problems which its application could cause for
defendants who sought to rely on violations of the Vienna Convention in appeal proceedings. The Court finds that in
three cases paragraph 2 of Article 36 has been violated by the United States, but that the possibility of judicial re-
examination is still open in 49 of the cases.
Turning to the legal consequences of the above-found breaches and to what legal remedies should be considered,
the Court notes that Mexico seeks reparation in the form of restitutio in integrum, that is to say partial or total
annulment of conviction and sentence, as the necessary and sole remedy. The Court, citing the decision of its
predecessor, the Permanent Court of International Justice, in the Chorzw Factory case, points out that what is required
to make good the breach of an obligation under international law is reparation in an adequate form. Following its
Judgment in the LaGrand case the Court finds that in the present case adequate reparation for violations of Article 36
should be provided by review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences of the Mexican nationals by United
States courts.

The Court considers that the choice of means for review and reconsideration should be left to the United States,
but that it is to be carried out by taking account of the violation of rights under the Vienna Convention.

The Court then addresses the function of executive clemency. Having found that it is the judicial process that is
suited for the task of review and reconsideration, the Court finds that the clemency process, as currently practised
within the United States criminal justice system, is not sufficient in itself to serve that purpose, although appropriate
clemency procedures can supplement judicial review and reconsideration.

Finally, with regard to Mexico's request for the cessation of wrongful acts by the United States, the Court finds no
evidence of a regular and continuing pattern of breaches by the United States of Article 36 of the Vienna
Convention. And as to its request for guarantees and assurances of non-repetition the Court recognizes the United
States efforts to encourage implementation of its obligations under the Vienna Convention and considers that that
commitment by the United States meets Mexico's request.

At the end of its reasoning, the Court emphasizes that, in the present case, it has been addressing issues of
principle from the viewpoint of the general application of the Vienna Convention. It observes that, while the present
case concerns only Mexicans, its Judgment cannot be taken to imply that the Court's conclusions do not apply to other
foreign nationals finding themselves in similar situations in the United States.

The Court finally points out that its Order of 5 February 2003 indicating provisional measures mentioned above,
according to its terms and to Article 41 of the Statute, was effective pending final judgment, and that the obligations of
the United States in that respect are, with effect from the date of the Judgment, replaced by those declared in this
Judgment. The Court observes that it has found in relation to the three persons concerned in the Order (among others),
that the United States has committed breaches of its obligations under Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Vienna
Convention; and that moreover, in respect of those three persons alone, the United States has also committed breaches
of Article 36, paragraph 2. The review and reconsideration of conviction and sentence required by Article 36,
paragraph 2, which is the appropriate remedy for breaches of Article 36, paragraph 1, has not been carried out. The
Court considers that in these three cases it is for the United States to find an appropriate remedy having the nature of
review and reconsideration according to the criteria indicated in the Judgment.

Composition of the Court

The Court was composed as follows: President Shi; Vice-President Ranjeva; Judges Guillaume, Koroma,
Vereshchetin, Higgins, Parra-Aranguren, Kooijmans, Rezek, Al-Khasawneh, Buergenthal, Elaraby, Owada,
Tomka; Judge ad hoc Seplveda; Registrar Couvreur.

President Shi and Vice-President Ranjeva append declarations to the Judgment of the
Court; Judges Vereshchetin, Parra-Aranguren and Tomka and Judge ad hoc Seplveda append separate opinions to the
Judgment of the Court.
___________

A summary of the Judgment is published in the document entitled Summary No. 2004/1, to which summaries
of the declarations and opinions attached to the Judgment are annexed. The present Press Release, the summary and
the full text of the Judgment also appear on the Court's website under the Cases heading (www.icj-cij.org).