What is a consular access?
Pakistan has announced to grant consular access to Indian serving Naval Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, in pursuance of the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.
Spokesperson Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Mohammad Faisal said as a responsible state, Pakistan will grant consular access to Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav according to Pakistani laws, for which modalities are being worked out.
He said that in pursuance of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision, Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav has been informed of his rights under Article 36, Paragraph 1(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Article 36 addresses communications between consular officers and nationals of the sending state. “Consular officers shall be free to communicate with nationals of the sending State and to have access to them,” reads the Convention.
So, under this provision a foreign national is granted permission to contact consulate or embassy officials of his/ her country in the host nation.
Consular access is the obligatory process by which federal, state, and local law enforcement and legal authorities provide information to foreign government representatives regarding their citizens in the country and permit foreign consular officers to assist their nationals.
So in Pakistani context, under the Vienna Convention treaty on Consular Relations we are bound to inform the diplomatic mission of India if an Indian citizen is arrested for any crime on this territory. Pakistan should also tell the inmate that the embassy had been apprised of his presence in the country and that the embassy may help him in legal matters.
Since, Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested for involvement in subversive and anti-national security activities, hence, Pakistan had refused to give him consular access.
Now after Pakistan’s granting permission, Indian diplomatic mission can not only meet Jadhav but arrange a counsel as well and monitor court proceedings regarding review on death sentence.
Kulbhushan Jadhav case
The fate of the case still hangs in the balance and it seems to continue for years to come and only God knows how many years as Indian Navy Commander “Jadhav will remain in custody of Pakistan”.
“A continued stay of execution constitutes an indispensable condition for the effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence of Mr. Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav,” the ICJ has announced.
Spokesperson of the media wing of Pakistan’s military, Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said the ICJ judgment validated the military courts. He said the ruling was another February 27 for India (when Pakistan shot down two Indian jets for trespassing into Pakistani airspace and captured one Indian pilot).
It has been more than three years since Jadhav is in Pakistan’s custody after he was arrested on March 3, 2016.
The ICJ announced its ruling saying that Jadhav be granted consular access. It also urged Pakistan to review the death sentence.
However, most of India’s appeals, most importantly regarding his release and acquittal, were rejected.