By Thomas Verfuss
A nightmare: being arrested while travelling abroad (be it as a tourist or a businessman), in a foreign country where you don’t know the language, the law and the culture, getting no assistance from a lawyer you understand and you trust, and then being convicted and sentenced to death.
To prevent this from happening, there is the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, an international treaty adopted in 1963 and ratified by 179 states. It provides that people arrested abroad are entitled to consular and legal assistance by their embassy or consulate without delay.
India argues that Pakistan has violated the convention. An Indian national, Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, was arrested in Pakistan in March 2016. Despite repeated requests from Indian authorities, Pakistan denied the right to consular visits to Mr. Jadhav, the government in New Delhi alleges. Jadhav was accused of espionage and terrorist activities and sentenced to death. India has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to give a provisional order not to execute Mr. Jadhav until the underlying legal issues are resolved, the Court stated on Tuesday.
“THE HAGUE, 9 May 2017. On 8 May 2017, the Republic of India instituted proceedings against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, accusing the latter of “egregious violations of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations” (hereinafter the “Vienna Convention”) in the matter of the detention and trial of an Indian national, Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav, sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan.”
India petitioned the judges of the ICJ, the principal legal organ of the United Nations, to issue provisional orders to Pakistan staying the execution of Mr. Jadhav without waiting for an oral hearing with the neighboring country, given the urgency of the matter and the irreparable prejudice an execution would cause.
Pending final judgment, India requested the ICJ to ensure that “[t]hat the Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan take all measures necessary to ensurethat Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav is not executed”
India’s Economictimes.com reported later on Tuesday that ICJ’s President Ronny Abraham had written to the Pakistan government asking for a stay of Mr. Jadhav’s execution as per India’s request:
“In my capacity as President of the Court, and exercising the powers conferred upon me under Article 74, paragraph 4, of the Rules of the Court, I call upon Your Excellency’s Government, pending the Court’s decision on the Request for the indication of provisional measures, to act in such a way as will enable any order the Court may make on this Request to have its appropriate effects,” the ICJ President wrote.
A source at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the ICJ, has confirmed to JFJ the authenticity of the quote from the letter. The source stressed however that the letter of the ICJ president is only an "urgent communication" and not a binding court order yet.
Update: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday the 18th of May issued the following provisional measures in the Jadhav Case (India v. Pakistan):
Pakistan shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure that Mr. Jadhav is not executedpending the final decision in these proceedings and shall inform the Court of all the measures taken in implementation of the present Order.
The Court also decides that, until it has given its final decision, it shall remain seised of thematters which form the subject-matter of this Order.
The full press release from the ICJ can be read here: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/168/19440.pdf