Mexico Takes U.S. to Court Over Death Sentences

By T Chris

Mexico will argue before the International Court of Justice (also known as the World Court) that the lives of 54 Mexican citizens on death row in the United States should be spared because they were refused their right to legal assistance from the Mexican Consulate. While Mexican newspapers view the lawyers representing the United States as a "dream team," they are confident of success.

"This is a very important case for Mexico, and we will not fail. Not one Mexican who has been denied his consular rights (in the United States) will be executed," [Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto] Derbez said during a news conference.

... "It is not the quantity but the quality of the lawyers that counts," he said. "And we have right on our side."

Right or wrong, success before the World Court may not be enough, given the lack of respect that the United States has accorded the Court's rulings.

In 2001, German citizen Walter LaGrand was executed in Arizona, despite the court's order to postpone his punishment until it had heard Germany's case that he had been denied his right to consular assistance.

Although the World Court has no power to enforce its decisions, the United States will not score points with countries whose help it seeks in Iraq if it continues to regard international tribunals as irrelevant. Accepting the World Court's ruling in this case will not endanger Americans -- those convicted will remain incarcerated for their crimes -- but would help the United States regain respect in the international community.

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