Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission called on the government to intensify its efforts to prevent Mexicans from being executed in other countries, noting that 58 of the nation’s citizens are currently on death row in the United States.
The death penalty, which Mexico formally outlawed in 2005, is “the most severe penalty imposed on people, the application of which is irreversible, and it is a measure that does not guarantee that justice is served,” the commission said in a document titled “Protecting the Right to Life.”
It said therefore that it takes steps to monitor and verify that Mexicans sentenced to capital punishment abroad receive consular assistance and legal representation.
The organization said it also seeks “in appropriate cases” to have the death penalty commuted to lengthy prison sentences.
According to official figures, 745 Mexicans had their death sentence commuted between 2000 and 2011. The rights commission said its records indicate a total of 58 Mexicans on death row at U.S. prisons through 2011.
The majority of those defendants were named in a lawsuit the Mexican government brought against the United States in 2003 before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, citing violations of procedural guarantees contained in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
In its 2004 ruling in what is known as the Avena case, the ICJ instructed the United States to “review and reconsider” the convictions and death sentences handed down to 51 Mexicans who were denied their right to consular notification and assistance at the time of their arrest.
However, in June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the ICJ’s ruling was not enforceable as domestic law because Congress had not passed implementing legislation.
Several months later, one of the Mexican citizens included in the Avena case, Jose Ernesto Medellin Rojas, convicted of partipating in the 1993 gang rape and murder of two teenage girls in Houston, Texas, was executed in that state.
Another Mexican citizen, Humberto Leal Garcia, convicted of the 1994 rape and murder in San Antonio of a 16-year-old Texas girl, was executed last year after the Supreme Court denied his attorneys’ request for a stay of execution based on authorities’ alleged failure to provide him with consular assistance at the time of his arrest.
Another pending case, the commission said, is that of brothers Jose Regino, Luis and Simon Gonzalez Villarreal, who could be sentenced to death by hanging if convicted of drug trafficking in Malaysia.
In light of this situation, the commission “considers it necessary to intensify actions aimed at preventing the death penalty in cases of Mexicans held in foreign prisons and to safeguard their rights to life, dignity and physical integrity.”
(source: Latin American Herald Tribune)