Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | ePaper
UN court orders Pakistan to review Indian 'spy' death sentence
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Pakistan to review the death penalty for the former Indian navy commander. New Delhi had complained of an unfair trial and sought the ICJ's intervention.
The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled Wednesday that Pakistan violated the consular rights to Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav and must review the death sentence of the alleged Indian spy.
The tribunal in The Hague ordered an "effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav," according to a document on the court's website.
India hailed the ICJ ruling as a "complete victory."
"By ordering Pakistan to follow the Vienna Convention this is a complete victory for us. This opens up the possibility of consular access and a retrial in a civilian court," an Indian government official said, adding that "if Pakistan wants improved relations it should set him free and give him safe passage back to us."
"The ICJ in its judgment announced today regarding Indian serving Naval Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav has decided not to acquit/release himâ€¦ Having heard the judgment, Pakistan will now proceed as per law," Pakistan's foreign office said in a statement on Wednesday.
Pakistan arrested Jadhav, a former Indian naval officer, in March 2016. Islamabad claims that Jadhav confessed to a Pakistani military court that he had been tasked by India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) intelligence agency to "plan, coordinate, and organize espionage/sabotage activities aiming to destabilize and wage war against Pakistan" in the southwestern province of Baluchistan and the southern port city of Karachi.
In April, 2017, a military court sentenced Jadhav to death, a verdict that angered Indian authorities, who believe that if the ruling was carried out, it would substantially damage ties between the two nuclear-armed countries.
Eventually, New Delhi sought the intervention of the ICJ, which ordered Islamabad not to execute the Indian national until it passes final judgment in the case.
India insists Jadhav was wrongly convicted for spying in a "farcical trial." At the UN court, India's legal team focused its arguments on Pakistan denying Jadhav access to legal counsel and consular access, and refusing to reveal the charges or evidence against him. In so doing, it stated that the Pakistani government had committed "egregious violations of the Vienna convention" and "deprived" the Indian national of his rights and protection accorded under the international treaty.
Pakistan countered the arguments by saying that it met all its international treaty obligations. It also maintained that the ICJ did not have jurisdiction to hear the Indian petition.
Jadhav's death sentence also turned international focus on Pakistan's military justice system. Activists deride them for their "extra-constitutional" character. Rights groups say under the military court system, civilian defendants are barred from hiring their own lawyers, media outlets are not allowed to observe proceedings, there is no right to appeal, and the military tribunal judges - who do not necessarily hold law degrees - are not required to provide reasons for their verdict.