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World Court to Rule on US-Mexico Consular Rights Case

The United Nations' highest court will decide on January 19 if a Mexican claim that the United States has failed to grant consular access to Mexican inmates on death row should result in a review of such cases.

In 2004, the World Court said the U.S. had violated international law for having failed to inform 51 Mexican inmates of their right to consular access and assistance during trial. The court also ordered the U.S. to review the cases.

Under the 1963 Vienna Convention, foreign nationals have the right to speak with their country's consulate after their arrests.

Last July, the court ruled the United States should do everything possible to stop the imminent executions of five Mexicans. The southwestern state of Texas executed one of the five, Jose Medellin, in August.

Texas authorities said Medellin's arrest, trial and sentencing complied with state, national and international laws, and there was no reason to stop the execution. Medellin was convicted of rape and murder.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President George Bush overstepped his authority by ordering Texas to comply with the 2004 international court ruling and re-open its case against Medellin.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.