Who Plays By the Rules? Not Rick Perry

Texas Governor Rick Perry may put our relations with other countries at risk if he does not grant Edgar Arias Tamayo clemency before his execution (Photo Credit: Stewart F. House/Getty Images).

Texas Governor Rick Perry may put our relations with other countries at risk if he does not grant Edgar Arias Tamayo clemency before his execution (Photo Credit: Stewart F. House/Getty Images).

By Andrea Hall, Mid Atlantic Regional Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator 

Let’s hope that Texas Governor Rick Perry was paying attention in kindergarten. Most likely, that’s where he first learned to play by the rules.

The rule, in this case, is article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), to which the U.S. is a party. That document requires that foreign nationals who are arrested or detained be given notice “without delay” of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified of that arrest. Foreign officials can then assist defendants with their legal proceedings.

Edgar Arias Tamayo is a Mexican national arrested 20 years ago in Houston for the murder of police officer Guy Gaddis. He is scheduled to be executed on January 22. At the time of his arrest, he was not notified of his consular rights. Instead, Mexican authorities learned of Tamayo’s case just one week before trial.

The upshot is that Tamayo’s trial lawyer spent less than 16 hours of investigation on the case and did not tell the jury of the deprivations and abuse Tamayo suffered as a child, his developmental problems, or the serious head injury he experienced as a teen and its impact on his behavior.

When we don't play by the rules, foreign countries dealing with U.S. citizens may decide to do the same.

Ten years ago, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the United States had violated the VCCR in the cases of 51 Mexican men sentenced to death in the U.S., including Tamayo.

Then-President George W. Bush sought to have the state courts provide the necessary “review and reconsideration” in all of these cases, and in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously found that the ICJ decision “constitutes an international law obligation on the part of the United States.”

However, the court also ruled that authority to implement the ICJ decision rested with Congress rather than the president. In 2011, a bill was introduced that would have fulfilled that judgment, but it has not passed.

With his execution date less than weeks away, executive clemency is Tamayo’s only hope. Both the Supreme Court and Secretary of State John Kerry have noted that failing to comply with the VCCR and the ICJ ruling puts our relations with other countries at risk. When we don’t play by the rules, foreign countries dealing with U.S. citizens may decide to do the same.

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

6 thoughts on “Who Plays By the Rules? Not Rick Perry

  1. "Edgar Arias Tamayo is a Mexican national arrested 20 years ago in Houston for the murder of police officer Guy Gaddis." That would be during the Ann Richards (D) Administration, that Mr. Tamayo's right to notification of his consular rights.

    "However, the court also ruled that authority to implement the ICJ decision rested with Congress rather than the president. In 2011, a bill was introduced that would have fulfilled that judgment, but it has not passed." Rick Perry was not in Congress in 2011.

    In this case, based on your article, Rick Perry is not the problem. He is, potentially, the answer for helping getting an accused murderer a new trial.

  2. What exactly does Gov. Rick Perry not understand regarding the following International Law:

    [quote] Ten years ago, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the United States had violated the VCCR in the cases of 51 Mexican men sentenced to death in the U.S., including Tamayo. [unquote]

    A chilling reminder that the USA is home to bitter injustice. It is a nation where life, liberty and happiness are all too often replaced by the pursuit of hatred, vengeance and capital punishment.

  3. David – Thank you. Rick Perry's first priority is to the people of Texas. Unless the Supreme Court or other higher authority intervenes he is justified and within his authority. If Mexico doesn't like it tough rocks. Tamayo was arrested by a police officer for a robbery he had just committed after being arrested Tamayo managed to keep his gun on him and use it to shoot the officer in the back of the head three times. He kicked out a back window of the police car and fled handcuffed. He was convicted. DAVID — the only issue I have with your statement is the use of the word "accused" murderer. Tamayo has whats coming to him and I for one am thankful that a minor and irellevant technicality has not yet stood in the way of this death sentence.

    • Rick Perry's first priority is to abide by article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) – to which the USA is a party. HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST !!!

      Texas authorities continue to violate this "right" for foreign nationals – a treaty that the USA became a signatory to, more than 40 years ago. This is the same treaty that ordinary Americans citizens rely on for protection when they find themselves in trouble overseas. It is the same treaty that allows all Americans who are detained abroad to contact the USA Consulate to help defend them and their rights.

      If Texas continues to fail to comply with the VCCR and the ICJ rulings, it will put their relations with other countries at risk. When The USA refuses to "play by the rules", foreign countries dealing with American nationals may decide to do the same.

      The state of Texas reflects a persistent ignorance, shows disrespect for International Law and astonishing insensitivity to the serious implications this may have on the USA.

  4. Dorina – Neither Rick Perry nor his constituents nor the slaughtered police officer are parties to the VCCR. Texas is it's own State with it's own elected Governor. As I said — should the appeals process, the Supreme Court or other appropriate authority intervene that is that … but as of this moment Perry is well within his authority to allow justice to take its course. I would say the same if some US Citizen was living illegally in a foreign nation, robbed a citizen of that nation at gunpoint and then shot three times in the head the citizen of that Nation who had the misfortune of being the arresting police officer. Adious Edgar. Sorry you didn't get that phone call to your consulate and mexican authorities were out of the loop. Wouldn't have save this cop killer anyway.

  5. The United States Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that individual States are not bound by these international treaties and it also decided the President had zero authority to order state courts to abide by international court’s decision. Your favorite President of all time (President Bush) ordered States to review convictions of Mexican citizens whose embassies/Governments may not have been officially informed of the arrest.