International Court of Justice Current Affairs - 2019

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Kulbhushan Jadhav Case: ICJ asks Pakistan to review conviction order

International Court of Justice (ICJ) has directed Pakistan to review conviction order of Kulbhushan Jadhav and, until then, put his death sentence on hold. ICJ also asked Islamabad to allow New Delhi consular access at earliest. This is a major diplomatic and legal victory for India in Kulbhushan Jadhav case.

Key Highlights of Judgement

In a 15-1 decision, ICJ has asked Pakistan to review conviction, sentencing of Jadhav and provide him consular access. This effectively means is that death sentence awarded to Jadhav by a military court in Pakistan is put on hold until probably a civil court, where accused will have better representation, hears the case afresh.

Pak Violated Vienna Convention: ICJ upheld that Islamabad had violated Article 36 of Vienna Convention of Consular Relations, 1963, by not informing India about Jadhav’s arrest immediately after Pakistan Army had taken him into custody.

ICJ found that India had been deprived of ‘right to communicate with and have access to Jadhav, to visit him in detention and to arrange for his legal representation’, which meant that Pakistan had breached obligations incumbent upon it under Article 36, paragraph 1 (a) and (c), of Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. The provisions of 1963 Vienna Convention define a framework for consular relations between countries.

Kulbhushan Jadhav Case

Kulbhushan Jadhav (49), a retired Indin Navy officer, was allegedly arrested by Pakistani security forces on 3 March 2016, while India was informed on March 25.

Claims by Pakistan: Jadhav was arrested in Pakistan’s restive province of Balochistan (near the Pak-Afghan border of Chaman) in 2016. He is accused of terrorism, spying, and fomenting trouble in Balochistan. Later in 2017 he was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in 2017. Pakistan has constantly accused India of supporting Baloch separatists is seeing Jadhav’s capture as proof of India’s involvement in unrest.

Claims by India: India acknowledged that Jadhav was an Indian national, who had been kidnapped by Pakistani agents from Iran, where he had gone on a business trip after his retirement from Indian Navy.

ICJ Approached

In May 2017, India approached the Hague-based ICJ, which restrained Pakistan from executing Jadhav till adjudication of case.

ICJ verdict in Jadhav’s case comes nearly 5 months after a 15-member bench of ICJ, headed by Judge Yusuf, reserved its decision on 21 February 2019 post hearing oral submissions by India and Pakistan. The proceedings in case lasted 2 years and 2 months.

ICJ advises Britain to return Diego Garcia to Mauritius

International Court of Justice (ICJ) has advised the UK to return the Diego Garcia (Chagos Islands) to Mauritius as rapidly as possible. The ICJ has said that Britain must give Mauritius control of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The advisory has been issued by the ICJ on the request of the resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to look into the issue.

Observations made by ICJ

  • In a majority opinion the court noted that the decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully complete when it attained independence because Britain carved away the Chagos Archipelago from it and retained control over it.
  • Britain is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.

Why the Chagos Islands had become the bone of contention?

  • Mauritius was the colony of erstwhile of British Empire. With the calls of decolonisation grew stronger, the British granted independence to the Island nation Mauritius.
  • But the British cut off the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 before granting it independence in 1968.
  • Also, the residents of the Chagos Archipelago were forcibly removed and the Chagos Archipelago was handed over to the US.
  • The US established its strategic Indian Ocean military base at the Chagos Archipelago.

Both the UK and the US had vehemently opposed the UN resolution which referred the matter to ICJ saying it was a bilateral matter with Mauritius. UK is not represented in the ICJ Bench and the sole dissent judgement was by the American Judge. Hence it is unlikely that the UK would accept the advisory. The possibility of any challenge to the US Diego Garcia base from Mauritius is also unlikely. Hence by and large status quo would be maintained.