Davis case may end up in International Court of Justice if US-Pak standoff persists

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ISLAMABAD - The lingering US-Pak dispute over the diplomatic immunity issue of double-murder accused American official Raymond Davis may end up in the International Court of Justice, if efforts to resolve the matter diplomatically and bilaterally do not succeed.

Although the US has been insisting that it is focused on settling the standoff with Pakistan bilaterally, sources suggest that the dispute could be referred to the ICJ, which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.

“There is a dispute resolution mechanism. There is an optional protocol to Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR)… under which there is a provision for the dispute to be notified to the International Court of Justice,” the Dawn quoted a diplomatic source, as saying.

While both Pakistan and the US are signatories to the ‘optional protocol’ to the VCDR, reference to the ICJ in a dispute over immunity is rare, and the only precedent is that of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

“States realise that they have to work it out together,” the diplomatic source said.

The VCDR’s optional protocol has mandatory jurisdiction and the ICJ “decision will be binding on the states”, said the source, who is an international law expert.

“It will be the responsibility of the state concerned to bring its actions in conformity with international law,” the expert stressed.

Meanwhile, a US embassy official questioned the jurisdiction of Pakistani courts to criminally prosecute Davis.

“Since he enjoys immunity the matter shouldn’t have been in the court in the first place,” the official said, adding that Pakistani courts didn’t have jurisdiction to hear his case.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the National Assembly on Monday that the two countries continued to differ on the interpretation and applicability of international and national laws in the Davis case.

Indecision on part of the Pakistan government to decide on Davis’ immunity has added to confusion in the case, but it is widely speculated that delaying tactics by the federal government are being employed to provide the US Embassy and the victims’ families an opportunity to reach a compromise. (ANI)

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