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10 March 2005

Don't get in any trouble abroad...

In yet another withdrawal from the norms of international behavior, the United States has pulled out of the optional protocol to the Vienna Convention requiring that foreign citizens arrested and charged with a crime in a different country have access to their embassy and/or consulate. The reason cited is that Mexicans arrested for crimes in the U.S. should not be given special access to the Mexican Embassy/Consulate.

Of course, the inverse is that if an American is arrested abroad - though he may have the right to contact the American Embassy/Consulate by virtue of that country being a member of the protocol - if that right is not extended, the American in custody would not really be able to appeal to this protocol to question the legality of this limitation. Most norms of international law are essentially based on reciprocity, i.e. if you do this for our nationals, we'll do the same for your nationals. Needless to say, any American who finds himself arrested abroad would have a hard time making his case now.

That is, in so many words, if you get arrested in a foreign country you - as an American - no longer have an uncontested case in demanding that you be allowed to contact the U.S. diplomatic official in that country for help. Of course if you're Bush & his friends, you're rich enough not to need this, but everyone else is screwed....

U.S. Quits Agreement on Access to Diplomats -- Paper
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7859607

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has withdrawn from an international agreement that guarantees jailed foreigners the right to talk to consular officers, ... Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice notified U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, in a letter dated March 7, that the United States "hereby withdraws" from the Optional Protocol to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the newspaper reported.

I wonder if this will put a damper on tourism to Mexico; they - like everyone else - are not too happy with us right now anyway...

Rice to Confront U.S. Resentment in Mexico
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/M/MEXICO_RICE?SITE=CAWOO&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Mexican congressmen and Cabinet members have denounced recent U.S. warnings about violence on the border, human rights abuses, continuing drug trafficking problems and possible election-related instability. U.S. ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza added fuel to the nationalistic fires last week when, during a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico City, he spoke about corruption and crime, Mexico's dependence on remittances from the United States and the country's failure to adapt "to the new rules of the globalization game."

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