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04. Letter from Catherine W. Brown, Assistant Legal Adviser for Consular Affairs, Department of State, to the Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General, in a case concerning the arrest of a Vietnamese national (December 2003)


December 2, 2003

Robert L. Whittaker
Assistant Attorney General
Oklahoma Attorney General's Office
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., 112 State Capitol Bldg
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-4894

Dear Mr. Whittaker:

Pursuant to your request, I provide the following information for your use in connection with the clemency petition of Hung Thanh LE. This information was obtained in the course of my official duties.

The United States of America and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam did not have consular relations or diplomatic relations in 1992. No provision had been made at that time for performance of consular functions by third countries under protecting power arrangements; nor was the Vietnamese representative to the United Nations in New York authorized to perform consular functions on behalf of Vietnamese nationals in the United States. Accordingly, in 1992, there was no one in the United States authorized to provide consular assistance to Vietnamese nationals in the United States. The two countries established limited consular relations in 1994 and diplomatic relations were not normalized until July 1995.

The United States and Vietnam were both parties to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, Apr. 24, 1963, 21 U.S.T. 77, in November 1992. (The United States became a party to the Convention on November 24, 1969, and Vietnam became a party on September 8, 1992.) Nevertheless, the competent authorities in the United States were under no obligation to implement Article 36 at that time with respect to Vietnamese nationals arrested or detained in the United States. Given the lack of consular relations between the two countries, Vietnam was not a "sending State" and the United States was not a "receiving State" for purposes of the Convention at that time.


Catherine W Brown
Assistant Legal Adviser for Consular Affairs

Drafted: L/CA - PMason

L/DL: Wteel (info)
L/EAP: Jhergen - OK
S/CPR: LDunham - OK
CA/P: AAmmerman - OK
CA/OCS/PRI - Ebetancourt - OK

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