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Scheduled Execution Of Mexican National Revives Diplomatic Row

NPR icon by Eyder Peralta
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The scheduled execution of a Mexican national in Texas is reviving a long-running diplomatic row between the United States and its southern neighbor.

As The New York Times reports, Secretary of State John Kerry is asking Texas to delay the execution of Edgar Arias Tamayo, 46, to allow time for a court to look into whether his arrest violated international law.

Essentially, a world court has found that American authorities did not tell Tamayo and other Mexican nationals that they had a right to seek consular assistance.

The New York Times adds:

"'This has nothing to do with the behavior and the consequences that that behavior had,' Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Eduardo Medina Mora, said in an interview. 'A court has to examine the consequences of that violation, a violation that has been conceded by both the United States and the State of Texas.'

"In 2004, the top judicial body of the United Nations — the International Court of Justice, informally known as the World Court — ordered the United States to review the convictions of Mr. Tamayo and 50 other Mexican citizens whose Vienna Convention rights were violated and who were on death row in the United States. Texas has executed two other Mexicans whose cases were part of the World Court's order. Those two had their convictions reviewed in connection with the Vienna Convention violations, but no United States court has done so in Mr. Tamayo's case."

The Los Angeles Times reports that Kerry told Texas that executing Mexican nationals has the potential of affecting how Americans are treated overseas.

As we've reported, this issue last surfaced in 2011, when Texas executed Humberto Leal Garcia Jr. The Obama administration asked the Supreme Court to step in and they refused.

The Court did issue an opinion in the case of Jose Medellin in 2008. The Bush administration had asked Texas to abide by the decision of the ICJ and review the cases of all Mexican nationals. The high court ruled Bush did not have any authority to order that but Congress could pass legislation requiring Texas to comply.

Medellin was executed months after the Supreme Court handed down its opinion.

Tamayo, who was convicted of killing a Houston police officer, is scheduled to be put to death Wednesday afternoon.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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