- India protests against hindered and impeded access
- Demands unconditional meeting with Jadhav
New Delhi. 16 July 2020. Over the past year, India has requested Pakistan more than twelve times to provide unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, who remains incarcerated in Pakistani custody since 2016.
This consular access is of utmost importance, as it is the basis for a process of effective review and reconsideration ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in July 2019 of the conviction and sentence of Jadhav by a Pakistani military tribunal.
In May 2020, Pakistan passed an Ordinance, ostensibly to comply with the order of the International Court of Justice. It inter-alia envisaged the Consular Officer of the High Commission of India filing a petition before a High Court for the relevant review and reconsideration. In that context, the contacts and conversations between the Consular Officer and Jadhav assume great importance. Any conversation between them must necessarily take place in privacy and without the presence of any Pakistani official or recording by Pakistan. It is only then that Jadhav can speak freely without any concerns of reprisal as he remains in Pakistani custody after the meeting. It is already evident that Jadhav has been intimidated repeatedly in the past, including in being made to express his alleged disinclination to seek a review.
India recently requested the Pakistani side for an unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional consular access to be provided on 13th July 2020. Pakistan was asked to ensure that the meeting is held in an atmosphere free from fear of retribution and without the presence of any Pakistani official in the vicinity of Jadhav and the Indian consular officials. Pakistan was also requested to not record (video and audio) the meeting.
“After extensive discussions, the Pakistan side conveyed that they were ready to organize consular access on 16 July 2020. We were assured that this consular access would be unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional. On the basis of this assurance by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, two Consular Officers of the High Commission proceeded to the meeting with Jadhav. Regrettably however, neither the environment nor the arrangements of the meeting were in accordance with the assurances of Pakistan,” said Anurag Srivastava, Spokesperson MEA.
The Consular Officers were not given unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access to Jadhav. On the contrary, Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and Consular Officers despite the protests of the Indian side. It was also evident from a camera that was visible that the conversation with Jadhav was being recorded. Jadhav himself was visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the Consular Officers. The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them. The Consular Officers could not engage Jadhav on his legal rights and were prevented from obtaining his written consent for arranging his legal representation.
In the light of these circumstances, the Indian Consular Officers came to the conclusion that the consular access being offered by Pakistan was neither meaningful nor credible. After lodging a protest, they left the venue.
It is clear that Pakistan’s approach to this matter continues to be obstructive and insincere. It has not only violated its assurance to the ICJ to fully implement the 2019 judgement, but also failed to act in accordance with its own Ordinance.
External Affairs Minister has apprised the family of Jadhav of these developments. We reiterate our commitment to ensure the safe return of Jadhav to India and will decide on a future course of action in the light of the events today.