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UN urges Texas to halt execution of Mexican national

Officials from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] appealed [UN News Centre report] to Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] Friday to stop the execution of Mexican national Humberto Leal Garcia [advocacy website], alleging he did not receive a fair trial. When Leal Garcia was arrested for the rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, he was denied consular access, as required by the Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations [text, PDF]. As a result, he was assigned a public aid attorney who had been sanctioned numerous times for ethical violations, which he contends caused his conviction. There was then a hearing in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website], which held [judgment, PDF] that Leal Garcia was entitled to a hearing on the consular rights violation in his case. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] wrote a personal letter to Perry asking for Leal Garcia's sentence to be commuted. In addition, two UN Special Rapporteurs made statements [text] that if the death sentence is carried out, it will be "tantamount to an arbitrary deprivation of life." Another spokesperson for the OHCHR, Rupert Colville, said, "The lack of consular assistance and advice raises concerns about whether or not Mr. Leal Garcia's right to a fair trial was fully upheld." Leal Garcia's execution is scheduled for July 7, which Perry has stated will go on as planned [Guardian report]. Leal Garcia's defense team filed a writ of certiorari [text] with the US Supreme Court [official website] earlier this week in an attempt to stay the execution. The government of Mexico filed [press release] an amicus curiae brief as well.

US President Barack Obama and former president George W. Bush both denounced the sentence, with Bush issuing an executive memoranda [text, PDF] that Texas had to comply with the ICJ's ruling. The Supreme Court ruled in Medellin v. Texas [Duke Law case backgrounder; JURIST report], that Bush did not have the authority to direct a state court to comply with a ruling from the ICJ. However, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that Congress could make the treaty binding in domestic law. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] is attempting to do this by introducing the Consular Notification Compliance Act [text, PDF] earlier this month, which is currently in committee [bill materials]. Texas has already executed two Mexican nationals [JURIST report] who were denied consular access.

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