Leahy To Chair Hearing On Consular Notification Treaty Obligations

WASHINGTON (Monday, July 25, 2011) – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will hold a hearing Wednesday, July 27, about U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), a key treaty ensuring access to consulates for citizens detained abroad.  The hearing is entitled “Fulfilling Our Treaty Obligations and Protecting Americans Abroad.”

Last month, Leahy introduced the Consular Notification Compliance Act, which would give jurisdiction to federal courts to review cases of foreign nationals currently on death row in the United States who were not told of their right to contact their consulate as required by the VCCR.  Failure to comply with the obligations of the VCCR were recently in the spotlight in the days before the July 7 execution of a Mexican national on death row in Texas who was not afforded access to his consulate after his arrest.  The Solicitor General of the United States cited the Leahy-authored legislation in a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to briefly stay the execution of Humberto Leal to allow Congress time to pass the bill.  The Supreme Court denied the request in a narrow, 5-4 decision.

Two executive branch officials are scheduled to testify at the hearing: Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz.  Also scheduled to testify at the hearing are John B. Bellinger, III, former Legal Adviser at the Department of State, and Clare Gillis, a freelance journalist detained in Libya for more than a month earlier this year.

The hearing, “Fulfilling Our Treaty Obligations and Protecting Americans Abroad,” will be held on Wednesday, July 27, at 10:00 a.m. in room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.  The hearing will be webcast live online.

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Witness Information


For Background Purposes Only


Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary, Department of State.  Patrick F. Kennedy is a Career Minister in the Foreign Service, and was confirmed in 2007 by the U.S. Senate as Under Secretary of State for Management.  He joined the Foreign Service in 1973, where he served until 1993, when he became the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. 

Bruce Swartz, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Department of Justice.  Bruce Swartz was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice in January 2000.  He previously held a variety of positions within the Justice Department.


John B. Bellinger, III, Partner, Arnold & Porter, LLP.  Before joining Arnold & Porter, John B. Bellinger served as The Legal Adviser to the Department of State under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.  He was previously the Legal Adviser to the National Security Council.  He served in the Justice Department, and has served as Of Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  Mr. Bellinger has spoken in support of the diplomatic dangers of the United States’ failure to comply with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Clare Gillis, Freelance Journalist.  Clare Gillis is a freelance journalist who was detained for more than one and one half months earlier this year in Libya, where she was reporting for The Atlantic and USA Today.  Libya is a signatory to the Vienna Convention on Consular Notification.  Consular access was critical to her release and safe removal from the country.

David B. Rivkin, Jr., Baker & Hostetler.  David Rivkin is a partner at the Washington, D.C. firm of Baker & Hostetler.

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