Late Tuesday night, 5 August, the State of Texas executed José Ernesto Medellín, despite a call from the UN Secretary-General urging the United States (US) not to go ahead with the execution and to respect the judgements of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In 2004 the ICJ ruled in the Avena case that the US was obligated to provide a judicial remedy of "review and reconsideration" of the convictions and sentences of José Medellín and 50 other Mexican nationals named in the judgement and in similar situations.

Mexico had turned to the ICJ claiming that the US had violated its obligations under Article 36 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by failing to inform detained Mexican nationals of their right to consular services after their arrest and for failing to notify the Mexican consulate of their detention.

President Bush ordered Texas to provide such a review, but in March 2008 the US Supreme Court concluded in Medellín v. Texas that the ICJ judgement was not binding on Texas and that the president lacked the constitutional authority to order the state to comply.

In June 2008 Mexico filed a request with the ICJ for interpretation of the Avena judgement on the scope and meaning of the US remedial obligations and applied for the indication of provisional measures of protection. The Court ordered the US Government to "take all measures necessary" to halt the upcoming execution of five Mexicans including Medellín, pending judgement on the request for interpretation.

After the US Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal by Medellín’s lawyers to stop the execution by arguing that it should be postponed until Congress had a chance to pass pending legislation that would require a review of similar cases, José Medellín was put to death by lethal injection.

At the very end of a brief filed in opposition to Medellín’s final appeal Texas makes a statement (pp. 17-18) indicating some kind of concession to the ICJ with regard to other Mexican nationals on death row in Texas and subject to the Avena judgement.

See the April issue of the Suffolk Transnational Law Review which is entirely dedicated to this case under the title: Medellín v. Texas: A Symposium (Vol. 31, No.2, Symposium 2008).

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