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    Update (9 July 2011) on Vienna Convention and Right to Consular Access

    Echoing a position that FAWCO and its partner organizations have supported for several years, reflected in FAWCO’s Resolutions and Recommendations (Resolution 1.6, adopted Marrakech, March 2011 ), the Washington Post recently supported legislation introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee*.  FAWCO’s position has been that unless the United States honors its Vienna Convention obligation to ensure consular access to foreigners incarcerated in the U.S., it puts its own nationals living or traveling abroad at great risk in unfamiliar or potentially hostile foreign judicial systems.

    The Consular Notification Compliance Act (CNCA) enjoys widespread backing from U.S. government, including the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and the Department of Justice. 

    Moreover, on July 1, the United States Solicitor General Donald Verrilli filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a stay of execution for death row inmate Humberto Leal Garcia, who was nonetheless executed in Texas on Thursday, July 7.  The Solicitor General argued that U.S. interests would be undermined by that execution by placing the United States in irremediable breach of  its international-law obligation, imposed by the International Court of Justice, to provide judicial review of a petitioner’s Vienna Convention claim. In his opinion, “That breach would have serious repercussions for United States foreign relations, law-enforcement and other cooperation  with Mexico, and the ability of American citizens traveling abroad  to have the benefits of consular assistance in the event of  detention." 

    Following the execution, a number of former U.S. diplomats voiced similar concerns regarding the interests of the United States, its international obligations and the safety of its citizens abroad. To read their statement and the comments of Senator Leahy, click below.

    FAWCO will continue to monitor the progress of this legislation and post updates on the website.

    * To read the Washington Post editorial, click here.

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