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Illegal injections: How Texas is breaking the law, one execution at a time

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A, Created: 2011:04:11 10:43:02

Courtesy photo

Humberto Leal Jr. visiting with Sister Germaine Corbin last month at the TDCJ’s death-row unit in Huntsville, Texas.

Photo: Courtesy: Texas Department of Criminal Justice, License: N/A

Courtesy: Texas Department of Criminal Justice

While researching the problem for the Bush administration, Bellinger and others with the State Department flew to Texas to meet with local officials and browse the cases, including Leal’s. “While we did not dig through all of the evidence ourselves, we were familiar with the individual cases. … It appeared to us that it would be unlikely that a review would change the original decision in those cases.”

All the more reason, Bellinger insisted, that Texas authorities should review the death-row cases and then administer justice as they see fit.

But Katharine Huffman, a Washington-based attorney lobbying federal lawmakers to conform to international law, said both the departments of State and Justice “know this is really important, know about the execution date that’s pending, and are working hard to try to address this problem quickly. … There’s an enormous amount of attention that’s being paid to this by the international community.”

The right to consular access is something that U.S. citizens abroad rely on “literally every day,” Huffman said. “We’ve already got one irrevocable violation of that international obligation, and that’s something that is taken very seriously by our international partners.

“To do that again? It’s hard to dismiss it as an aberration if it happens again.”

Should the U.S. continue to disregard its obligations under the Vienna Convention, American travelers risk losing what Bellinger called “one of the most important rights that Americans have if they’re arrested abroad.” And they’ll only have Texas, and our unresponsive Congress, to blame.

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