June 13, 2001
BY FAX TO 405-521-3353
(ORIGINAL TO FOLLOW)
The Honorable Frank Keating
Governor of Oklahoma
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105
Dear Governor Keating:
I understand that you are currently considering a recommendation by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board that Gerardo VALDEZ, a Mexican national scheduled for execution on Tuesday, June 19, 2001, be granted clemency. On behalf of the Department of State, I wrote to the Pardon and Parole Board last week concerning Mr. Valdez's petition, and would like to bring the same issue to your attention.
The Government of Mexico has contacted the Department about this case because of its concern that Mr. Valdez was not advised at the time of his arrest of his right to have a Mexican consular official notified of his detention. Under Article 36(1)(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, a treaty to which the United States and Mexico are parties, a foreign national who is arrested or detained must be so notified "without delay." The Department of State places highest importance on our consular notification obligation, the reciprocal observance of which serves to protect all Americans who travel or live abroad.
We have been in touch with the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma about this case. We understand that, notwithstanding the fact that he was a Mexican citizen, Mr. Valdez was not advised of his right to request consular assistance from Mexican consular officials at any time prior to his trial or during his subsequent incarceration. The Government of Mexico became aware of Mr. Valdez's detention on April 19, 2001, when family members of Mr. Valdez first contacted the Mexican Consulate in El Paso.
According to the Attorney General's office, arresting and detaining officials learned that Mr. Valdez was a Mexican citizen within a day of his arrest in July 1989. This information indicates that there was a failure to comply with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, as Mr. Valdez was not advised of his right to have a Mexican consular official notified of his detention. If Mr. Valdez had been so advised and if he had requested that Mexican consular officials be notified, it would have been incumbent upon Oklahoma authorities to notify the nearest consulate of the fact of Mr. Valdez's detention, so that the consulate could have provided whatever consular assistance it deemed appropriate.
In view of the above facts, the Department of State will convey to the Government of Mexico on behalf of the United States the Department's deepest regrets over the failure of consular notification in this case. In addition, we ask that you give careful consideration to the pending clemency request for Mr. Valdez, including the failure by authorities to provide Mr. Valdez with consular notification pursuant to Article 36 of the Vienna Convention, and particularly to the representations made by the Government of Mexico on Mr. Valdez's behalf.
In closing, I would like to convey my appreciation for the assistance provided by the Attorney General's office -- in particular, by First Assistant Attorney General Tom Gruber -- in investigating the facts of Mr. Valdez's case. The Department has been engaged for the past four years in an extensive outreach effort to educate federal, state and local law enforcement authorities about U.S. treaty obligations concerning consular notification and access. Mr. Gruber, in fact, is the designated coordinator for such efforts in Oklahoma. We look forward to working further with Mr. Gruber and would also appreciate the support of your office for our efforts to ensure that law enforcement, judicial and other state and local officials throughout Oklahoma are aware of consular notification and access requirements.
William H. Taft IV