Texas governor must stop execution of Mexican national

The Governor of Texas must stop the execution of Edgar Arias Tamayo, a Mexican national scheduled to be put to death this evening in violation of international law and despite a new finding that he was denied a fair trial, Amnesty International said.

“Under Texas law, the state governor can stop this execution right up until the last minute, even though the clemency board has voted against mercy,” said Rob Freer, US researcher for Amnesty International.

“Governor Rick Perry should promptly announce that he is calling off this execution and that he will ensure Texas meets its obligations under international law.”

Edgar Arias Tamayo was sentenced to death for the murder of a Houston police officer in January 1994.

He was not informed of his right to seek consular advice after his arrest. This assistance could have provided pivotal evidence in the case. Edgar Tamayo’s claim that he was prejudiced by this violation of international law has to this day never been reviewed by any court.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered the USA to ensure that Tamayo and other Mexican nationals denied their consular rights receive such judicial review.

Yesterday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles told Tamayo’s lawyers that they had voted against recommending that Governor Perry commute the death sentence or grant Tamayo a 150-day reprieve. The Texas governor cannot, under state law, commute a death sentence without the Board’s recommendation, but he can issue a stay of execution.

Last week, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called on the USA to stop the execution. The IACHR has reviewed the case and determined that the USA had deprived Edgar Tamayo of his fair trial rights under international law and that his execution would violate US obligations.

Tamayo’s lawyers are continuing to seek a stay of execution from the courts, with the US Supreme Court being the final arbiter.

“We hope that the Supreme Court will grant a stay of execution. It must be clear by now to each Justice on the Court that leaving this matter up to Texas in the absence of action by Congress to implement the ICJ order has been like leaving a fox in charge of the henhouse,” said Rob Freer.

Under international law, a country’s international legal obligations are binding on all branches and levels of government. Members of the executive, legislature and judiciary, must do what they can to ensure these obligations are met.

“It is an invalid excuse now, and it will be an invalid excuse if Edgar Tamayo is executed this evening, for the USA to blame provisions of domestic law for its failure to meet its international legal obligations. It would not accept such an excuse from other countries; it should not do so for itself,” said Rob Freer.