Humberto Leal is dead. Does this threaten our own rights?

As I posted recently (“The Right to Access Your Consulate”), Humberto Leal was scheduled for execution by the state of Texas yesterday. Despite appeals from a large number of external actors (the UN, Obama, and apparently 4 of our current Supreme Court justices), Texas Governor Rick Perry decided to continue with the execution. As I stated in that previous post, at issue is the right of a foreigner to get assistance from their own country’s consulate (and to be told of this right) when arrested. The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations that codified this right has been a relatively straightforward deal for most countries. We seem to be creating most of the problems (and of course, the fact that we allow for the death penalty in some states, while many other countries do not, brings more attention to our cases).

It is now up to Congress to pass legislation to make sure that we no longer run afoul of our international legal obligations. Fortunately, there is a bill in the pipeline. Let’s just hope that Congress acts soon.

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