The news of eight former Indian Navy personnel being sentenced to death in Qatar has stirred controversy and concern throughout the country. These individuals have been in Qatari custody for over a year, and on Thursday, October 26, 2023, a Qatari court pronounced the death penalty for them. The specific charges against them have not been publicly disclosed by Qatar, but they were arrested on allegations of espionage last year. The Indian government is faced with the challenge of safeguarding its citizens from facing execution.
The decision of the Qatari court has left the Indian Ministry of External Affairs perplexed, and they have stated that they are exploring legal avenues to save their citizens from the death penalty. Legal experts suggest that the government still has several options at its disposal to protect its citizens. These include:
- Appealing to the Upper Court in Qatar: The government can file an appeal against the death penalty in Qatar’s higher court. If due process is not followed, or if the appeal is not heard, India can consider international legal recourse.
- International Legal Recourse: In cases where proper procedures are not followed, or if appeals are not considered, India can seek help from international courts.
- Diplomatic Pressure: India can exert diplomatic pressure on Qatar to secure the release of its citizens.
- United Nations Assistance: The UN and civil societies can raise the issue at a global level.
Anand Grover, an advocate, explained that international law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) generally discourage imposing the death penalty in most cases. However, due to the lack of details regarding the charges and the court’s verdict, commenting on the matter requires caution from the government, NGOs, and the media.