Request for Interpretation of the Judgment of 31 March 2004 in the Case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America) (Mexico v. United States of America)
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Overview of the case
On 5 June 2008, Mexico filed an Application instituting proceedings against the United States of America, requesting the Court to interpret paragraph 153 (9) of its Judgment of 31 March 2004 in the case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America), in which it had laid down the remedial obligations incumbent upon the United States, namely “to provide, by means of its own choosing, review and reconsideration of the convictions and sentences” of the Mexican nationals at issue in that case. Mexico claimed that a dispute had arisen between the Parties as to the scope and meaning of paragraph 153 (9) and asked for an interpretation as to whether paragraph 153 (9) expressed an obligation of result and, pursuant to that obligation of result, requested the Court to order that the United States ensure that no Mexican national covered under the Avena Judgment would be executed unless and until the review and reconsideration was completed and it was determined that no prejudice resulted from the violation.
On the same day, Mexico also filed a Request for the indication of provisional measures in order “to preserve the rights of Mexico and its nationals” pending the Court’s Judgment in the proceedings on the interpretation of the Avena Judgment. By an Order of 16 July 2008, the Court indicated the following provisional measures:
“(a) The United States of America shall take all measures necessary to ensure that Messrs. José Ernesto Medellín Rojas, César Roberto Fierro Reyna, Rubén Ramírez Cárdenas, Humberto Leal García, and Roberto Moreno Ramos are not executed pending judgment on the Request for interpretation submitted by the United Mexican States, unless and until these five Mexican nationals receive review and reconsideration consistent with paragraphs 138 to 141 of the Court’s Judgment delivered on 31 March 2004 in the case concerning Avena and Other Mexican Nationals (Mexico v. United States of America);
(b) The Government of the United States of America shall inform the Court of the measures taken in implementation of this Order.”
Following the submission of written observations by the United States and of further written explanations by both Parties, the Court delivered its Judgment on Mexico’s Request for interpretation on 19 January 2009.
The Court found that Mexico’s Request for interpretation dealt not with the “meaning or scope” of the Avena Judgment as Article 60 required, but rather with “the general question of the effects of a judgment of the Court in the domestic legal order of the States parties to the case in which the judgment was delivered”. Thus, the Court considered that, “[b]y virtue of its general nature, the question underlying Mexico’s Request for interpretation is outside the jurisdiction specifically conferred upon the Court by Article 60” and that “[w]hether or not there is a dispute, it does not bear on the interpretation of the Avena Judgment, in particular of paragraph 153 (9).” The Court therefore concluded that it could not accede to Mexico’s Request for interpretation.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.