Jadhav case clarified several int’l law issues: ICJ chief

Kulbhushan Jadhav
Kulbhushan Jadhav

United Nations, Oct 31 : The International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case has led to the clarification of several issues in international law relating to consular relations and the treatment of prisoners from other countries, according to ICJ President Abdulqawi Yusuf.

“The Court had to address several issues regarding the interpretation and application of the Vienna Convention in the specific circumstances of the case,” he said on Wednesday, presenting the court’s annual report.

He said that the ICJ reiterated or clarified the rights to consular access, the meaning of “without delay” in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and its application to even cases of alleged espionage and established that bilateral agreements could not nullify the Convention.

Yusuf said: “In its Judgment, the Court found that Pakistan had violated its obligations under Article 36 of the Vienna Convention and that appropriate remedies were due in this case.”

India welcomed the ICJ’s adaptability to emerging realities.

“The Court has remained sensitive to political realities and sentiments of states, while acting in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter, its own statute and other rules of international law,” said Uma Shankar, an Additional Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs dealing with legal affairs.

“It is significant to note that the court has not lost sight to adapt itself to the working methods including handling of emergent situations in responding to the increased workload and in dealing with the complexity involved in the cases submitted to it,” she added.

After hearing the case brought by India against the death penalty imposed by a Pakistani military court on Jadhav, the court ruled in July that Islamabad must review the case and stay the execution till the review and its outcome.

The court agreed with India that the trial was unfair and by a 15-1 verdict held that his rights under international convention had been violated because Indian diplomats were denied access to him and could not help him.

Yusuf said the ICJ “is pleased” that Pakistan confirmed its commitment to implementing its judgment in full and allowing Jadhav access to Indian diplomats.

The ruling had significance for Latin American countries that have deep commitment to diplomatic protections and traditions.

Participating in the debate on the ICJ report, Mario Oyarzabal, the Legal Counselor in the Argentine External Relations Ministry, commended the speed with which the ICJ acted in the sensitive case issuing provisional measures to avoid irreparable damage that could result from an execution.

Alejandro Celorio, the Legal Adviser of the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affair, praised the ICJ verdict in the Jadhav case saying: “The Court was able to expand and deepen your jurisprudence in relation to the law consular and the importance of its unrestricted compliance.”

The judgment laid out the “the obligation of consular notification regarding the detention of foreign citizens”, which “is of the greatest relevance to the operation of the multilateral system”, he said.

“It established that the international rule of law protects relations between states in their more basic dimension: its citizens,” Celorio added.

This dimension of the ICJ verdict against Pakistan for violating Jadhav’s rights is of relevance to US relations with Mexico, which has frequently complained that Washington fails to notify it about the arrest of its citizens and provide prompt consular address.

The delegate referred to the 2004 Avena Case in which the ICJ had ruled that the US had violated the Vienna Convention by not providing consular access to Mexicans, some of whom faced the death penalty.

“The violations of the rights of foreigners are such an important issue today as 15 years ago, when the Avena ruling was issued,” the delegate said.

Jadhav, a retired Indian navy commander, was tried as a spy by the Pakistani military after he was captured in 2016.

India says that he was kidnapped from Iran and brought to Pakistan.

Indian sources say that a terrorist organisation, Jaish ul-Adl, abducted him in Sarbaz in Iran and handed him over to Pakistani military, which brought him to Balochistan Province.

A Pakistani military court sentenced him to death in April 2017 on charges of spying and supporting terrorism.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

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