Foreign Nationals and the Death Penalty in the US

Updated April 11, 2014

Information provided by Mark Warren of Human Rights Research


Background: Consular Rights, Foreign Nationals and the Death Penalty

Reported Foreign Nationals on Death Row in the U.S.

by foreign nationality
by state of confinement

Notes

Dual nationality
Sources of Information

Foreign Nationals Executed Since 1976

Foreign Nationals with Scheduled Execution Dates

Deaths in Custody

Foreign Nationals Released on Grounds of Innocence

Executive Clemency for Death-sentenced Foreign Nationals

Noteworthy Court Decisions

News and Developments - Current Year (updated by DPIC)

News and Developments - Previous Years (by Mark Warren and DPIC)

2013  2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007   2006  2005


Consular Rights, Foreign Nationals and the Death Penalty

Under Article 36 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations(VCCR), local authorities must inform all detained foreigners "without delay" of their right to have their consulate notified of their detention and to communicate with their consular representatives. At the request of the national, the authorities must then notify the consulate of the detention without delay; they must also facilitate consular communication and grant consular access to the detainee. Consuls are empowered to arrange for their nationals' legal representation and to provide a wide range of humanitarian and other assistance, with the consent of the detainee. Local laws and regulations must give "full effect" to the rights enshrined in Article 36. The USA ratified the VCCR without reservations in 1969; so fundamental is the right to consular notification and access that the U.S. Department of State considers it to be required under customary international law in all cases, even if the detainee's home country has not signed the VCCR. As of February 9, 2009, 172 countries were parties to the VCCR. 

In March of 2004, the International Court of Justice determined in the Avena case (Mexico v. USA) that advisement of consular rights "without delay" means "a duty upon the arresting authorities to give that information to an arrested person as soon as it is realized that the person is a foreign national, or once there are grounds to think that the person is probably a foreign national." In most cases, police in the United States would become aware of a suspect's probable nationality through routine identity confirmation and background checks, done either during the initial investigation, upon arrest, or very shortly thereafter. The State Department has interpreted the term "without delay" to mean as soon as practicable (i.e., without undue delay) and normally by the time the detainee is booked for detention. While not all of the reported foreign nationals currently on death row were deprived of their consular rights by arresting authorities, there is overwhelming evidence that prompt notification of these rights remains highly sporadic across the United States. No comparative study has yet been done, but the available data indicates that timely consular assistance significantly reduces the likelihood that death sentences will be sought or imposed on foreign nationals facing capital charges.

Even applying the less stringent definition of prompt notification used by the State Department, only 7 cases of complete compliance with Article 36 requirements have been identified so far, out of more than 160 total reported death sentences (including those executed, reversed on appeal or exonerated and released). In most of the remaining cases, detained nationals learned of their consular rights weeks, months or even years after their arrest, typically from attorneys or other prisoners and not from the local authorities. As a consequence, consular officials were often unable to provide crucial assistance to their nationals when it would be most beneficial: at the arrest and pre-trial stage of capital cases. For example, Arizona authorities did not formally inform German nationals Karl and Walter LaGrand of their Article 36 rights until 17 years after their arrest-- and just weeks before their execution.

Although not a capital case, evidence from a lawsuit indicates the extent to which police departments in the USA may have breached their consular notification obligations. In Sorensen v. City of New York , a Danish national sought punitive and compensatory damages for the failure of the NYPD to inform her upon arrest in 1997 of her right to consular notification. Official records produced by the plaintiff revealed that over 53,000 foreign nationals were arrested in New York City during 1997, but that the NYPD Alien Notification Log registered only 4 cases in which consulates were notified of those arrests--a failure rate well in excess of 99 per cent (even presuming that a majority of the detainees might have declined consular notification). Another example is the recent finding by the International Court of Justice in Avena and Other Mexican Nationals that the United States had violated its Article 36 obligations in 51 of 52 reviewed cases of Mexican nationals resulting in death sentences (a 98% failure rate, in the most serious of all possible circumstances).

Research to date indicates that a large majority of death-sentenced foreign nationals were lawfully present in the United States and were thus not "illegal aliens." For example, of the 54 Mexican nationals whose cases were initially brought before the International Court of Justice in Avena, only 5 were alleged by the United States to have entered the country illegally at any time prior to their arrest on the charges resulting in their death sentences.


Reported Foreign Nationals Under Sentence of Death in the U.S.

TOTAL: 138   As of April 11, 2014

By foreign nationality:

TOTAL NATIONALITIES: 36

ACTIVE DEATH SENTENCES

 

Mexico

59

Spain

1

Cuba

9

Tonga

1

Jamaica

3

Trinidad

2

El Salvador

8

Costa Rica

1

Colombia

3

Nicaragua

1

Cambodia

5

Laos

1

Viet Nam

9

Estonia

1

Honduras

6

Egypt

1

Germany

1

Bangladesh

1

Philippines

1

Haiti

1

Lithuania

1

Lebanon

1

Serbia

1

Jordan

1

Iran

2

Russia

1

Canada

2

Guatemala

2

St. Kitts and Nevis / UK

1

France

1

Bahamas

3

Argentina

1

Armenia

1

China

1

Ukraine

1

Dominican Republic

1

INACTIVE DEATH SENTENCES

 

Mexico (sentence reversed on appeal)

1

El Salvador (sentence reversed on appeal)

1

*Inmates with INS or USCIS registration numbers (indicating foreign nationality), but for whom no specific nationality information is currently available.

By State of Confinement:

TOTALS BY JURISDICTION: California (59), Texas (22), Florida (21), Arizona (3), Ohio (3), Nevada (5), Pennsylvania (5), Louisiana (3), Alabama (3), Virginia (2), Oregon (2), Montana (1), Georgia (2), Mississippi (1), Nebraska (1), Federal (5).

Totals include all reported foreign nationals under sentence of death, including those awaiting new sentencing hearings and cases where the individual's immigration status is uncertain or their nationality is disputed. Confirmed cases of dual citizenship (individuals possessing both U.S. citizenship and that of another country) are not listed. For more information, see dual nationality below.

 

List of symbols in tables below

# - foreign nationality independently confirmed by two or more sources

! - awaiting re-sentencing or new trial after appellate court ruling

+ - awaiting formal sentencing by trial court

M - cases of reported mental illness, "mental retardation" or brain damage (incomplete data)

INN - claim of innocence raised on appeal (incomplete data)

INS- inmate with INS detention number, but for whom no nationality has been specified

<< - facing possible execution in the near future

& - cases in which a violation of consular rights has been raised in court proceedings or otherwise directly reported.

^ - cases in which notification of consular rights was reportedly provided by authorities without delay (i.e. upon arrest, or prior to booking for detention).

* - cases in which a consular rights violation is disputed

? - cases of possible dual nationality

ALABAMA (3)

Mohammad Sharifi

 

Iran

 

Benito Albarran Ocampo

 &

Mexico

 #

Lam Luong

 

Viet Nam

 

 

  ARIZONA (3)

Michael Apelt

& M

Germany

#

Albert Carreon Martinez

 &

Mexico

#

Joel Escalante Orozco   Mexico  

 

CALIFORNIA (59)

Carlos Avena Guillen

&

Mexico

#

Omar Fuentes Martinez

&

Mexico

#

Hector Juan Ayala Medrano

&

Mexico

#

Vicente Benavides Figueroa

& M

Mexico

#

Constantino Carrera Montenegro

& M!

Mexico

#

Jose Lupercio Casares

&

Mexico

#

Abelino Manriquez Jacquez

&

Mexico

#

Sergio Ochoa Tamayo

& M

Mexico

#

Ramon Salcido Bojorquez

*

Mexico

#

Alfredo Valdez Reyes

&

Mexico

#

Jaime Armando Hoyos

&

Mexico

#

Tomas Verano Cruz

&

Mexico

#

Manuel Machado Alvarez

 

Cuba

 

Tauro Waidla

&

Estonia

#

Hooman Ashkan Panah

&

Iran

#

Luis Alberto Maciel Hernandez

&

Mexico

#

Enrique Parra Duenas

&

Mexico

#

Samuel Zamudio Jimenez

&

Mexico

#

Martin Mendoza Garcia

&

Mexico

#

Daniel Covarrubias Sanchez

&

Mexico

#

Jorge Contreras Lopez

& INN

Mexico

#

Juan Sanchez Ramirez

& INN

Mexico

#

Ignacio Tafoya Arriola

&

Mexico

#

Sonny Enraca

&

Philippines

#

Juan Manuel Lopez Hernandez

&

Mexico

#

Eduardo David Vargas Barocio

&

Mexico

#

Arturo Juarez Suarez

&

Mexico

#

Samreth Sam Pan

 

Cambodia

 

John Ghobrial

 

Egypt

 

Marcos Esquivel Barrera

&

Mexico

#

Juan de Dios Ramirez Villa

&

Mexico

#

Ruben Gomez Perez

&

Mexico

#

Magdaleno Salazar Nava

&

Mexico

#

Jose Francisco Guerra

&M

Guatemala

 

Run Peter Chhoun

 

Cambodia

 

Vaene Sivongxxay

 

Laos

#

Victor Miranda Guerrero

&

Mexico

#

Dung Anh Trinh

 

Viet Nam

 

Alfredo Valencia Salazar

&

Mexico

#

Huber Joel Mendoza Novoa

M&

Mexico

#

Adrian Camacho Gil

&

Mexico

#

Jose Luis Leon Elias

&

Mexico

#

Santiago Pineda Hernandez

&

Mexico

#

Johnny Morales

&

Honduras

 

Dora Gudiño Zamudio (Dora Buenrostro)

female

&

Mexico

#

Edgardo Fuentes Sánchez

 

Honduras

 

Jesus Penuelas Velasquez

&

Mexico

 

Irving Ramirez

&

El Salvador

 

Julian Beltran

&

El Salvador

 

Lam Nguyen

 

Viet Nam

 

Charles Ng

 

China (Hong Kong)

 

Hung Thanh Mai

 

Viet Nam

 

Mao Hin

 

Cambodia

 

Carlos Martinez Mendivil

&

Mexico

 #

Santiago Martinez Alonso

&

Mexico

 #

Pedro Espinosa Davila

 

Mexico

#

Cristhian Antonio Monterroso

 

Guatemala

 

Osman Alex Canales

 

Honduras

 

Victor Manuel Rojas (Daniel Cervantes) & Mexico  

 


FLORIDA (21)

Noel Doorbal

 

Trinidad

 

Robert Gordon

 

Jamaica

 

Sean Smith

 

Bahamas

 

Lancelot Armstrong

 

Jamaica

 #

Guillermo Arbelaez

 M

Colombia

 

Pedro Hernandez Alberto

^M

Mexico

#

Rory Enrique Conde

 

Colombia

 

Ian Lightbourn

 

Bahamas

 

Omar Blanco

 

Cuba

 

Manolo Rodriguez

 

Cuba

 

Terance Valentine

 

Costa Rica

 

Leonardo Franqui

Cuba

 

Pablo San Martin

Cuba

 

Marbel Mendoza

 

Cuba

 

Jesus Delgado

Cuba

 

Pablo Ibar

 ?

Spain

 

Clemente Aguirre Jarquin

INN

Honduras

#

Dolan Darling

 &

Bahamas

 #

Tai A. Pham

 

Viet Nam

 

Dane Abdool

?

Trinidad

 

Ana Maria Cardona

female

Cuba

#


GEORGIA (2)

Joaquin Arevalo

&

El Salvador

 

Pablo Maldonado Zequeida

 

Mexico

#


LOUISIANA (3)

Thao Tan Lam

 

Viet Nam

 

Manuel Ortiz

& INN!

El Salvador

#

Michael LeGrand

?

France

 


MISSISSIPPI (1)

Thong Le

 

Viet Nam

 


MONTANA (1)

Ronald Smith

^

Canada

#

NEBRASKA (1)

Jorge Galindo Espriella

&

Mexico

#


NEVADA (5)

Carlos Rene Perez Gutierrez

&

Mexico

#

Avram Vineto Nika

&

Serbia

#

Sioasi Vanisi

 

Tonga

 

Jose Echavarria

 

Cuba

 

Avetis Archanian

 

Armenia

 


OHIO (3)

Jose Trinidad Loza Ventura

&

Mexico

#

Abdul Awkal

 M

Lebanon

#

Ahmad Fawzi Abdelnor Issa

 &

Jordan

 


OREGON (2)

Horacio Alberto Reyes Camarena

&M

Mexico

#

Ricardo Serrano Piñeda

 ^

Mexico

 #


PENNSYLVANIA (5)

Albert Reid

 

Jamaica

#

Borgela Philistin

 

Haiti

 

Thavirak Sam

M

Cambodia

 

Miguel Padilla Lozano

&

Mexico

#

Cam Ly

&

Vietnam

 


TEXAS (22)

Cesar Roberto Fierro Reyna

<<& INN M

Mexico

#

Hector Garcia Torres

& INN

Mexico

#

Roberto Moreno Ramos

<<&

Mexico

#

Dennis Zelaya Corea (Carlos Ayestas)

&

Honduras

#

Lim Kim Ly

 

Cambodia

#

Syed Babbani

 

Bangladesh

#

Victor Saldano

&

Argentina

#

Ruben Ramirez Cardenas

<<&

Mexico

#

Ramiro Ibarra Rubi

&

Mexico

#

Ignacio Gomez

& M

Mexico

#

Felix Rocha Diaz

&

Mexico

#

Bernardo Tercero

 

Nicaragua

#

Juan Carlos Alvarez Banda

&

Mexico

#

Gilmar Alexander Guevara

 

El Salvador

#

Linda Carty

<<female

&

St. Kitts/ UK

#

Walter Alexander Sorto

&

El Salvador

 

Chuong Duong Tong

 

Viet Nam

 

Edgardo Cubas

 <<

Honduras

 

Juan Lizcano Ruiz

M

Mexico

#

Hector Medina Romero

&

El Salvador

 

Areli Escobar Carbajal

 

Mexico

#

Obel Cruz Garcia   Dominican Republic  



VIRGINIA (2)

Alfredo Prieto

&

El Savador

 

Ivan Teleguz

&

Ukraine

 

 

FEDERAL (5)

Arboleda Ortiz

& M

Colombia

#

Jurijus Kadamovas

&

Lithuania

 

Iouri Mikhel

 

Russia

 

Alejandro Umana

 

El Salvador

 

Robert Bolden

&?

Canada

 #

TOTAL: 138

As of April 11, 2014

NOTES

Solely for the purposes of this list, a 'foreign national' is any individual under sentence of death in the USA who does not possess U.S. citizenship. More generally, foreign nationals in the USA would include: tourists and visitors, migrant workers with temporary permits, resident aliens, undocumented aliens, asylum-seekers and persons in transit. Foreign citizens comprise a significant portion of the population: more than 20 million foreigners visit the United States annually from overseas and approximately 18 million residents of the United States are non-citizens (according to the 2000 census).

Along with the general consular notification obligations that apply under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the USA has also negotiated separate bilateral consular agreements applicable to some 50 countries. Under the terms of most of these agreements, there is a mandatory obligation to promptly notify the consulate of an arrest irrespective of the national's wishes (typically within a specified time period, such as 72 hours following the detention).

Dual nationality

Individuals retaining dual nationality who are arrested in one of their countries of citizenship are problematic for the purposes of consular notification under the VCCR (which makes no reference to dual citizenship). Individuals are listed provisionally if a report is received that they possess citizenship in a country other than the USA; if U.S. citizenship is later confirmed, the name is removed from this list.

The U.S. Department of State has taken the position that individuals who retain U.S. citizenship along with another nationality are not entitled to notification of consular rights if arrested in the USA. Other nations do not necessarily share that interpretation of consular treaty obligations; at a minimum, foreign consulates in the United States retain the right to communicate with and visit their citizens in custody, irrespective of dual nationality. Many countries have asserted a right to provide consular protection to dual nationals arrested in their other country of citizenship, particularly in life-threatening situations. While the scope of consular notification rights for this category of dual nationals may thus be open to some interpretation, all non-U.S. citizens detained or arrested in the USA are unquestionably entitled to the full range of consular rights afforded under international law.

Sources of Information

Since U.S. authorities do not always list or report incarcerated individuals by nationality, it is difficult to identify and verify all foreign nationals under sentence of death. For instance, while the 2000 Census of State and Federal Correctional Facilities (Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that foreign nationals represent about 7% of the state and federal inmate population, the survey notes that 121 reporting institutions did not provide any data on incarcerated non-U.S. citizens. There is no accessible national registry of death-sentenced foreigners (although the USCIS data base of deportable aliens serving prison terms would likely include all known foreign nationals on death row nationwide). Compounding the problem is the still-widespread failure of U.S. law enforcement officials to notify detained foreigners of their consular rights. Without this notification and subsequent communication at the request of the detained national, foreign consulates in the United States are likely to remain unaware of the true number of their nationals who are imprisoned, let alone sentenced to death.

The information for this list comes from a variety of sources, including appellate attorneys, post-conviction resource centers, trial counsel, prosecutors, newspaper articles, journalists, consulates and prison officials.

Research to date indicates that there are no foreign nationals currently on death row in South Carolina. There is as yet no complete data from a number of U.S. states with significant death row populations, including Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida and Missouri. A comprehensive list would likely include some 130 names (i.e., roughly 4% of the total U.S. death row population).

A name is included on the list if it is confirmed by at least one reliable contact. The eventual goal is to verify the nationalities of all individuals on this list from two or more independent sources. At present, approximately three-quarters of the names have been corroborated by multiple independent sources.

I welcome any and all additional information on this subject.

Mark Warren, Human Rights Research
e-mail
tel: (613) 256-8308


Human Rights Research provides information on consular rights issues in death penalty cases, along with international legal consulting and research services to attorneys, consulates and non-governmental organizations.