UN declares execution of Mexican a violation of international law

Last night, July 7, Humberto Leal Garcia (Leal), a 38-year-old Mexican national was executed in the state of Texas. The man had been convicted of rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl in 1994.

But there was a problem with Leal's execution. Texas authorities never informed Leal, a Mexican citizen, that he had the right to communicate with his consular representatives. This, according to the Mexican government, is a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to which Mexico and the United States are parties.

The U.S. government had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution, precisely on the grounds that international law had been violated by failing to provide Leal with adequate consular access. But the Supreme Court rejected suspension of execution.

Today, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that the United States violated international law in executing Leal.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman today expressed displeasure and concern over the execution, warning that "If we do not protect the rights of foreign nationals in the United States we risk not having access to our citizens" detained in other countries.

According to Agence France-Presse, Leal was one of 51 Mexicans sentenced to death in the United States who, according to the International Court of Justice, were denied the right to consular assistance, in violation of the Vienna Convention. Another of those 51 was executed in Texas in 2008.

The government of Mexico has protested the execution of both Mexicans.