The International Court of Justice will hold public oral hearings in India v. Pakistan (Jadhav case) from 18 to 21 February 2019. Before they commence, the International Commission of Jurists (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, Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, detained and convicted by a Pakistani military court on charges of “espionage and sabotage activities against Pakistan.”
India has alleged that denial of consular access breaches Pakistan’s obligations under Article 36(1) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), to which both States are parties.
Pakistan has argued, among other things, that the VCCR is not applicable to spies or “terrorists” due to the inherent nature of the offences of espionage and terrorism, and that a bilateral agreement on consular access, signed by India and Pakistan in 2008, overrides the obligations under the VCCR.
ICJ’s Q&A discusses the relevant facts and international standards related to the case, including: India’s allegations against Pakistan; Pakistan’s response to the allegations; the applicable laws; and the relief the International Court of Justice can order in such cases.
Frederick Rawski (Bangkok), ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Director, e: frederick.rawski(a)icj.org
Reema Omer (London), ICJ International Legal Adviser, South Asia t: +447889565691; e: reema.omer(a)icj.org
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.
Download the Q&A: