Two opinion-editorials published this week – one by Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and another by former Texas Governor and Attorney General Mark White – call for justice in the case of Edgar Tamayo. Both pieces cite the diplomatic conundrum that his case poses.
Tamayo is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas on January 22, 2014 for the 1994 murder of Officer Guy Gaddis of the Houston Police Department. Tamayo, who is a Mexican national, was denied his right to seek consular assistance after his arrest, as required under article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. Mexican authorities did not learn of his case until a week before the start of the trial and were therefore unable to provide him with adequate legal counsel. Tamayo’s court-appointed attorney failed to present substantial mitigating evidence about his abusive childhood and developmental problems, which might have impacted the jury’s decision in the sentencing phase.
In a piece published by the Houston Chronicle (“Define case by the Golden Rule,” January 14, 2014), Rev. Salguero writes:
For the thousands of our fellow-citizens who serve as missionaries, clergy or aid workers in foreign lands, few safeguards are more important than their right to rapid consular contact if they are detained by the local authorities.
The simple act of sharing their religious beliefs can place them at risk of detention by repressive governments. Confronted by an unfamiliar and sometimes hostile legal system, prompt access to the assistance that only U.S. consulates can provide is their one secure lifeline to the outside world – and to eventual freedom.
He goes on to note that “this delicate equilibrium of mutual treaty compliance is now threatened by a looming execution in Texas” and that “treating others as we expect to be treated is not a concept confined to international law, of course; for people of faith, it is also a divine precept.”
In a special to the Austin American-Statesman (“Perry, Abbott should be true to their word in handling Tamayo case,” January 15, 2014), former Texas Governor Mark White notes that in 2008, Governor Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott informed federal officials within the George W. Bush Administration and at the U.S. Supreme Court ” that Texas would ask the courts to review the Vienna Convention claims of Mexican nationals whose cases were the subject of the International Court of Justice’s decision. Abbott said that his office would ‘join the defense in asking the reviewing court to address the claim’ if the courts had not yet done so.”
According to Governor White, “…as of today, no court has ever reviewed the violation of Tamayo’s consular rights to see whether the Mexican government’s assistance would have made a difference. As it stands now, Tamayo will become the first person executed without any review of his Vienna Convention claim.”
Read more about the case here.