TWO WEEKS after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Pakistan must review Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence and affirmed his right to consular access, Islamabad on Thursday said it has “offered” India “consular access on this Friday”.
India said it was “evaluating” the proposal and would respond through diplomatic channels. “We have offered the Indian High Commission to avail consular access on this Friday. The reply from the Indian side is awaited,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said. Pakistan said it would grant consular access “according to Pakistani laws”, for which the modalities were being discussed.
Asked about Pakistan’s offer, the Ministry of External Affairs’ official spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “We have received a proposal from Pakistan. We are, right now, evaluating the proposal, in view of the ICJ judgment. We will reply to Pakistan through diplomatic channels.”
On July 17, the Hague-based ICJ ordered Pakistan to undertake an “effective review and reconsideration” of Jadhav’s conviction and death sentence and asked it to grant consular access without further delay. The ICJ upheld India’s stand that Pakistan is in egregious violation of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963 on several counts in the case.
The terms and conditions of the proposed consular access are not clear. According to sources, there are a number of issues on which discussions are being held between Indian diplomats in Islamabad and Pakistani government officials: how many Indian officials will conduct Jadhav’s interview; what will be the duration of their meeting; will officials from Pakistan, other than security personnel, be present; will there be a glass partition between them.
According to Pakistan foreign ministry’s statement, Jadhav has been informed of his rights under Article 36, Paragraph 1(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), which states that “authorities shall inform the person concerned without delay of his rights…”
India has argued that Article 36, Paragraph 1(a) of the Vienna Convention says that “consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending state and to have access to them. Nationals of the sending state shall have the same freedom with respect to communication with and access to consular officers of the sending state.” India is the sending state in this case.
New Delhi has also pointed out that Paragraph 1(c) says that “consular officers shall have the right to visit a national of the sending state who is in prison, custody or detention, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his legal representation.”
But Islamabad has said that it is going to follow “Pakistan’s laws” since Article 36, Paragraph 2 says that “the rights referred to in Paragraph 1 of this Article shall be exercised in conformity with the laws and regulations of the receiving state, subject to the proviso, however, that the said laws and regulations must enable full effect to be given to the purposes for which the rights accorded under this Article are intended.” Pakistan is the receiving state.
Last week, India had asked Pakistan to grant “full consular access” to Jadhav at the earliest. “We expect that full consular access to Jadhav should be granted at the earliest in full compliance and conformity with the judgment of the ICJ and the Vienna Convention,” Kumar had said. “We are in touch with the Pakistani authorities in this regard through diplomatic channels,” he had said, adding that Delhi has conveyed its demands to Islamabad.
Sources said that India does not want the meeting to become a sham, like the one which took place in December 2017, when Jadhav’s mother and wife went to see him.
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