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U.S. Pulls Out of Pact on Foreign Inmates

The World

March 11, 2005|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The United States has withdrawn from an accord that lets an international court decide disputes over foreign inmates of U.S. prisons, an agreement used by death penalty opponents in their fight against executions.

The decision followed an International Court of Justice ruling last year that ordered new hearings for 51 Mexicans on death row because U.S. authorities did not tell them they could consult diplomats from their own country immediately after their arrests.

The United States initially backed the Vienna Convention protocol, hoping it would further protect its citizens detained abroad.

"In the use of the Optional Protocol, frankly, the way it's being interpreted and the way it's being used go against the original ideas that we signed up for," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Thursday.

President Bush, an advocate of the death penalty, will comply with previous rulings of the court, also known as the World Court. The U.S. will also remain party to the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations requiring it to tell foreigners they have the right to see a diplomat.

Pulling out of the related protocol would leave disputes over foreign inmates in the hands of U.S. courts, eliminating what the Bush administration sees as outside interference.

The United Nations had not yet received the letter and had no immediate comment, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

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