Court at The Hague Asks U.S. to Review Death Sentences

Rights of 51 Mexicans Violated, Says Tribunal

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MEXICO CITY, APRIL 1, 2004 ( The International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled that the United States should review the cases of 51 Mexican criminals on death row, saying that their rights were violated.

Mexican political and religious authorities hailed the decision as historic.

The judgment — first of its kind in Mexico’s long struggle to protect immigrants in the United States — established that the United States violated the human rights of at least 47 of 51 prisoners sentenced to death.

Shi Jiuyong, president of the International Court of Justice, said that the «United States must carry out, by means of its own choice, a significant review of convictions and sentences.»

Mexican law does not include the death penalty. Mexican bishops repeatedly have pronounced themselves against capital punishment and the violation of the individual guarantees of those led to the death chamber. Two-thirds of those on death row in the United States are blacks or Hispanics.

The court in the Netherlands decided in favor of Mexico’s appeal for the review of the trials and sentences of the death-row prisoners.

Mexico contended the defendants were never told, in the course of their trials, that they had the right to be assisted by Mexican consulates spread throughout the United States, a rather common practice.

According to the court, the above has resulted in unfair judgments and violated the 1963 Vienna Convention signed by both countries.

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