The European Parliament (EP) has expressed “deep concern” over the “alarming rate of executions” based on “flawed trials” in Pakistan and deplored the use of its military courts that hold secret hearings and have civilian jurisdiction. Significantly, the EP resolution came on Thursday, days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stayed the death sentence given to Kulbhushan Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer, by a Pakistan army court for alleged “involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan”. India moved the ICJ, describing the charges against Jadhav as “concocted” and his trial as “farcical”.
“Parliament is deeply concerned at the alarming rate of executions in Pakistan following flawed trials, including of minors and persons with mental disabilities, some of which are carried out while appeals are still under way,” the resolution said. It also called on Pakistan to reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty, with the ultimate goal of full abolition.
“The EP deplores the use in Pakistan of military courts that hold hearing in secret and have civilian jurisdiction; insists that the Pakistani authorities grant access to international observers and human rights organisations for purposes of monitoring the use of military courts,” the resolution said.
It also called for an “immediate and transparent transition to independent civilian courts in line with international standards on judicial proceedings; underscores that third-country nationals brought to trial must be allowed access to consular services and protection”.
The EP resolution also mentioned Jadhav’s case and said he was convicted by a military court in April 2017 and sentenced to death and the case was currently before the ICJ on the grounds that he was denied consular access rights. It also noted that Pakistan entered the “Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP)”, which provides it with benefits from generous tariff preferences, and it should provide a strong incentive to respect core human and labour rights, the environment and good governance principles.
The resolution also made it clear that the GSP status was “conditional and the effective implementation of international conventions is an essential requirement under the scheme.”