Thursday, April 10, 2014

Case Concerning Avena and other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America) case brief

Case Concerning Avena and other Mexican Nationals
(Mexico v. United States of America)

Citation: 2004 I.C.J. 1 (Mar 31)

Case Facts
  • Fifty one Mexican nationals were in jail on various charges.  This included three prisoners who had been convicted of a capital crime and who were on death row.
  • At the time of arrest, the prisoners were not warned that they had the right to contact the Embassy of Mexico.
  • Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights 36(1)(b), foreign nationals have the right to contact their embassy at the time of their arrest.
  • The United States was a party to the Convention.
  • Mexico went to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).  The ICJ ordered that the United States "take all measures necessary" to prevent the execution.
Issue
Was the United States in breach of their obligations under the treaty? 

Holding
Yes, The ICJ found that the United States was indeed in breach of their treaty obligations.

Analysis
  • The ICJ found sthat in order to make it good, the United States would have to review the  Mexican nationals' sentences.
  • Mexico had pushed to have the sentences be annulled, but the ICJ did not feel that it was required.
What you should learn from this case
Foreign nationals have a right to contact their embassy at the time of arrest if the country is a party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Rights.

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