- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 8, 2001

Neither Arizona officials nor State Department diplomats are in peril of being hauled before the World Court on human rights charges in the wake of the recent ruling that they defied the court's order to halt an execution.
The World Court, also known as the International Court of Justice, has no jurisdiction over Arizona's government, and any call to punish the federal government must go to the United Nations Security Council, whose permanent members, including the United States, have veto power.
However, the U.S. State Department fearing retaliation against an estimated 2,500 Americans in police trouble abroad at any given moment still bows to the Hague-based court, despite a Supreme Court ruling that federal law forbids intervention when mistakes are discovered too late.
Like the 1998 case that produced that ruling Paraguay's failed lawsuit to block Virginia's execution of Angel Breard the new decision sought to block an execution because the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs requires notification of foreign governments when their nationals are arrested.
"The requirement is that they allow foreign nationals to get in touch with their consulates. The incentive of doing it is simply the knowledge that there's a legal requirement for the United States to do it," said Karolina Walkin, a spokeswoman for State's consular affairs section.
Responsibility for that program has been transferred from the State Department legal affairs section to consular affairs, said a State Department official, who called the transfer timing a coincidence unrelated to the June 27 ruling.
"We have more people and resources to do this work," the official said. "It was a good time to make the switch."
In the past 31/2 years, the State Department trained police forces in 34 cities in addition to putting out the word at police conventions. It distributed 93,000 brochures spelling out in 72 pages what the treaty requires, translations in 13 languages and 400,000 pocket cards for police officers. Notification also is required when foreign nationals die or invoke diplomatic immunity.
(The full 72-page document, "Consular Notification and Access," is available on the World Wide Web at http://travel.state.gov .)
The latest case involved Germany's claim it might have helped German brothers Karl and Walter LaGrand avoid death sentences if German diplomats had been notified when they were arrested and charged with murder committed during a bank robbery.
U.S. officials said Arizona police did not know the men were German, a claim contradicted by Bruno Simma of the German legal team.
Germany obtained an 11th-hour World Court order on March 3, 1999, to stop the second execution, but Arizona officials ignored it. Germany asked for U.S. assurance that such lapses never would happen again, but the World Court refused because such dictates are not part of the treaty.
Germany is not among the 57 nations to which such notification is mandatory under that 1969 agreement by 131 nations. It is among signatories whose citizens must be told of their right to contact a consulate personally.
The consular representation right is in addition to rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, including the right to consult a lawyer.
A key U.S. defense at the World Court in both the Breard and LaGrand cases was the pledge by State Department lawyer Catherine W. Brown that the United States was expanding efforts to educate local police to notify consulates.
At the November 2000 World Court hearing, Mr. Simma said Miss Brown gave the same assurances two years earlier in the Breard hearing before the same court.
"After listing and specifying recent efforts in this regard [in 1998], Ms. Brown concluded … 'Nothing more is required.' I repeat, 'Nothing more is required,'" Mr. Simma said.
Spokesman Michael Mattler said the legal affairs bureau had no comment and declined to reconcile State Department positions with rulings of the Supreme Court. They include the jurisdictional questions from the Breard ruling and a decision that federal officials may not require local or state police to take action for which funding is not provided.
By allowing the 1998 execution of Breard, the Supreme Court also said foreign nations may not sue American states, which are immune to lawsuit under the 11th Amendment to the Constitution.
Primarily, though, the justices ruled 6-3 that the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act trumps the 1969 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations in cases where mistakes are discovered too late.

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