The Bush administration is attempting to defuse an international dispute over the death penalty by instructing Texas courts to give 51 Mexicans facing the death penalty new hearings on their claims that they were denied meetings with diplomats from their nation, in violation of international law, the Washington Post reports. The administration told the Supreme Court last week that the U.S. would bow to a 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which found that Texas officials violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by not providing the Mexicans with consular access.
The issue of Mexicans facing capital punishment in Texas has been a sore point in U.S.-Mexico relations. Mexico argues that its citizens would fare better in Texas courts if they got aid from home-country diplomats. The U.S. has been under fire internationally for the administration’s perceived refusal to adhere to international legal norms in such places as the prison for accused terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Bush’s action involves a sweeping assertion of executive authority. Without any congressional action, he is instructing the courts of a sovereign state how to treat defendants.