Kulbhushan Jadhav row: UN panel says Pakistan's military courts shouldn't handle terror cases

As the war of words between India and Pakistan takes place at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands, a United Nations (UN) panel came out strongly against Pakistan, cautioning it to conduct civil proceedings in cases like Kulbhushan Jadhav's.

The UN panel questioned the lack of independence of military court judges, considering that they are placed within the airtight military hierarchy and holding 'closed trials'. Findings from the UN Committee Against Torture — on the countries it examined during its latest session from 18 April to 12 May: Afghanistan, Argentina, Bahrain, Lebanon, Pakistan and Republic of Korea — cover positive aspects of how the respective country is implementing the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and also main matters of concern and recommendations.

File photo of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. PTI

File photo of former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav. PTI

According to the report, the UN panel has raised concerns over Pakistan government's habit of "detain any person suspected of committing an offence under the Act for up to three months without review or the possibility of a habeas petition and allowing the detention without trial of up to a year of any person suspected of being involved in the activities of a proscribed organisation." The report also said that confession is taken in as evidence as long as the district superintendent of police is present when the accused confessed, in contrast with civilian courts where confessions are only admissible in court if made to a magistrate. "The committee is also seriously concerned that the state party has authorised military courts to try civilians for terrorism-related offences, most recently in the 23rd amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, approved in 2017," said the report.

The report also said that the military courts should not be handling terrorism-related prosecutions and that criminal cases against civilians should be transferred to the civilian courts.

Jadhav was given a death sentence by a Pakistani military court on 10 April on the charges of espionage and waging war against Islamabad. Jadhav, a former Indian naval officer, was allegedly arrested in Balochistan in March 2016 and Pakistan said Jadhav worked for the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) fuelling the Baloch separatist movement and attempting to sabotage the CPEC project. India says Jadhav has been kidnapped and framed. Islamabad has rejected 16 Indian requests for consular access to Jadhav, who is held at an unknown prison in Pakistan.

India and Pakistan on Monday clashed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the fate of alleged spy Kulbushan Jadhav with New Delhi invoking the court's jurisdiction to see that the death sentence against him was annulled immediately. But Pakistan rejected the plea on the ground that India had no right to invoke the jurisdiction of the UN's highest court because the Vienna Convention does not provide for matters relating to spies, terrorists and those who indulge in espionage.

However, Islamabad suffered a jolt when it was not allowed by the court to play the video containing a purported confession by Jadhav, a former navy official, who India says was abducted from Iran and taken to Balochistan.

The Indian case was put up strongly by noted lawyer Harish Salve who demanded that Pakistan should annul Jadhav's death sentence and see that he was not executed as his trial was held under "farcical" circumstances in violation of the Vienna Convention.

The ICJ had last week "stayed" the execution on a petition by India, which approached the UN court after 46 years on an issue with Pakistan.


Updated Date: May 16, 2017 12:15 PM

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