May 19, 2017
The Law Society of Upper Canada and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada express grave concern about the threat of disbarment against lawyers in Lahore, Pakistan.
It has come to the attention of the Law Society and Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (“LRWC”) that on April 14, 2017, the Lahore High Court Bar Association (the “LHCBA”) stated that it will take action against any lawyer who extends his/her services to Kulbhushan Jadhav, an alleged Indian spy who was sentenced to death in early April 2017 by a Pakistani military court. The LHCBA’s official statement, released by LHCBA Secretary-General Amer Saeed Raan, was as follows:
The LHCBA has unanimously decided to cancel the membership of any lawyer who offers his services to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.
The Secretary-General added that the LHCBA has asked the government of Pakistan not to cave to any foreign pressure, including that from the Indian government, as regards Jadhav:
India has declared Jadhav its son and is putting pressure on the Pakistani government for his release. We demand that the Indian spy who is involved in playing with lives of Pakistanis should not be spared and the government (should) ensure his hanging.
According to information received by the Law Society and LRWC, following a three-and-a-half-month trial, Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Field General Court Martial in Pakistan on April 10, 2017. He was found guilty of spying for India, waging war against Pakistan, sponsoring terrorism, and destabilizing the state. Authorities claim his naval background and the sensitive nature of his case justified the military court proceedings. However, it is generally accepted that “the jurisdiction of military tribunals is restricted to offences of a strictly military nature committed by military personnel.”  Reviewing international law restrictions on the use of military tribunals, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded that, “[u]nder international law, military tribunals can only be competent to try military personnel for military offences. The WGAD recommended that “[a]ll sentences issued by military courts should be reviewed by a civil court, even if they have not been appealed. Military courts should never be competent to impose the death penalty.”