As proceedings resume in India v. Pakistan (Jadhav case) before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the ICJ has published a briefing paper to clarify the key issues and relevant laws raised in the case in a Question and Answer format.
The case concerns Pakistan’s failure to allow for consular access to an Indian national detained on charges of serious crimes.
India has alleged “egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR)” by Pakistan in connection with the detention, trial and conviction of Indian national Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav.
Pakistani authorities arrested Jadhav on 3 March 2016.
India was informed of the arrest on 25 March 2016. On 10 April 2017, Pakistan’s military announced Jadhav had been convicted and sentenced to death by a military court for “espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan.”
India’s requests for consular access, made at least sixteen times starting from 25 March 2016, were either denied by Pakistan or made conditional upon India’s assistance in the investigation against Jadhav.
India alleges that denial of consular access breaches Pakistan’s obligations under Article 36(1) of the VCCR, to which both States are parties.
In May 2017, the ICJ accepted India’s request for provisional measures and directed Pakistan to “take all measures at its disposal” to ensure Jadhav is not executed pending the final decision of the Court.
India is due to file its written memorial with supporting documents today, 13 September.
Pakistan will have three months to file a counter-memorial.
The ICJ will then decide on dates for oral hearing of arguments.
Following the hearings, the Court will deliberate and issue a judgment.
While the case at issue is limited to denial of consular access under the VCCR, it engages other critical fair trial concerns that arise in military trials in Pakistan.
The International Commission of Jurists has documented how Pakistani military courts are not independent and the proceedings before them fall far short of national and international fair trial standards.
Judges of military courts are part of the executive branch of the State and continue to be subjected to military command; the right to appeal to civilian courts is not available; the right to a public hearing is not guaranteed; and a duly reasoned, written judgment, including the essential findings, evidence and legal reasoning, is denied.
The case also underscores one of inherent problems of the death penalty: that fair trial violations that lead to the execution of a person are inherently irreparable.
The International Commission of Jurists considers the death penalty a violation of the right to life and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment and notes that a large majority of States, in repeated UN resolutions, have called on retentionist states to declare a moratorium on the practice with a view to abolition.
Frederick Rawski (Bangkok), ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Director, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reema Omer (London), ICJ International Legal Adviser, South Asia t: +447889565691; e: reema.omer(a)icj.org
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