State of Emergency Pakistan 2007 – International and Local Response: Press Releases and Calls for Action
For newer additions received by mail, HRCP will add them in the comments below on their behalf. Other parties are welcome to leave their calls and comments as well.
iCCO, JUSTITIA ET PAX, cmc, NJCM, aim for human rights
Public Statement – Support Pakistan’s Civil Society in their Call for Democracy and Fundamental Freedoms
In solidarity with civil society organisations and human rights defenders in Pakistan, Dutch civil society organizations (1), Justice and Peace Netherlands, Aim for human rights, CMC mensen met een missie, ICCO/KerkinActie and the Dutch section of the International Commission of Jurists (NJCM), express their deep concern about the crack down on human rights defenders, lawyers, political parties, political leaders and the media in Pakistan. We strongly condemn the actions of the Pakistan military in the last days that ill-treated, arrested and detained thousands of representatives of civil society and political parties in Pakistan after suspending the constitution and proclamation of emergency rule and promulgation of the Provisional Constitutional Order in Pakistan. We also express our concern as thousands of human rights defenders and representatives of civil society and political parties are still detained illegally and we fear for their safety and the increasing risk of enforced disappearances.
The suspension of the constitution not only provides the current military regime and General Pervez Musharraf with unchecked power, but it also creates a climate of impunity for human rights violations. In support of partner organisations and civil society in Pakistan we call upon General Musharraf to immediately release all political prisoners, to restore the country’s constitutional order, including the restoration of an independent judiciary and civilian rule.
We recognize the threats to peace and security in Pakistan, but we emphasize that only a democratic chosen government that respects the rule of law and fundamental freedoms can bring stability to the people of Pakistan. Long term security is best served by return to democracy and respect for human rights.
In response to the current situation we urge the international community to take the following action:
1. To support unequivocally civil society organisations, lawyers and human rights defenders – like Ms. Asma Jahangir, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and commissioner to the International Commission of Jurists – in their call for the reinstatement of democracy, the rule of law and a constitutional order in Pakistan.
2 To immediately suspend all financial aid, including military aid, given to the current regime in Pakistan, until:
a) The country’s constitution, an independent judiciary and civilian rule are restored;
b) All political prisoners are released;
c) General Musharraf honours his commitment to step down as head of the army and a definite end to military rule is made;
d) The curbs being imposed on the media are ended, ensuring transparency in public affairs by a free and independent media;
e) Free and fair elections are held and return to a lawful government in Pakistan is a fact.
3. To support civil society and human rights organisations and increase aid for development in
4. To urge the United Nations Human Rights Council to call Pakistan to account. If there is no
substantial improvement in the human rights situation in Pakistan a special session of the
human rights council should address these blatant human rights violations.
For more information, contact: Sebastiaan van der Zwaan or Friederycke Haijer, Justice and Peace
Netherlands, Tel: 00 31 (0)70 3136 804, e-mail: Sebastiaan.firstname.lastname@example.org
***(1) Dutch organisations working together with and supporting civil society organisations in Pakistan on development and human rights issues.
AMNESTY International Joint Press Release (NEW)
Pakistan: Amnesty International’s Secretary General presents petition demanding human rights and justice in Pakistan
Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan today led a delegation of top lawyers, judges and journalists to present a petition to Pakistan’s High Commission in London demanding the restoration of human rights and justice in Pakistan
The petition, addressed to General Pervez Musharraf, demanded full respect for freedom of expression in Pakistan, the release of all those arbitrarily detained under the State of Emergency, reinstatement of the independent judiciary, justice for the victims of enforced disappearance and no introduction of military tribunals for civilians.
Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan said:
“General Musharraf must put an end immediately to his outrageous assault on Pakistan’s vibrant human rights community, institutions of justice and independent media. In the name of the “war on terror” he is destroying the very guarantors of the stability that he claims to be defending.”
General Secretary of the UK’s National Union of Journalists Jeremy Dear said:
“Sales of satellite dishes and radios in Pakistan have skyrocketed in recent days, showing just how highly people value independent news. A free media is vital in maintaining public confidence in democracy and President Musharraf’s actions will only add to the country’s problems, creating a climate of fear and suspicion. Journalists must be able to work free from threats and harassment. Pakistan must abide by its international obligations and stop its assault on the media.”
In presenting the petition, Irene Khan and Jeremy Dear were also joined by the Chair of the England and Wales Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee Mark Muller QC.
Amnesty International is also calling for all other states to suspend immediately all forms of security cooperation, including military assistance, until Pakistan lifts the emergency measures which violate international human rights law.
Subject: [PR] Pakistan: Suspension of constitution grave blow to rule of law.
COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE – COMUNICADO DE PRENSA
Pakistan: Suspension of constitution grave blow to rule of law. President urged to end attack on independence of judges and lawyers.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today condemned the suspension of the constitution in Pakistan, the summary dismissal of the Chief Justice and the arrest of leading lawyers, and expressed grave concern at this dismantling of the rule of law.
“President Musharraf has dealt a grave blow to the rule of law and stability in Pakistan”, said Nicholas Howen, Secretary-General of the ICJ.
“Dismissing and replacing the Chief Justice, arresting lawyers and suspending the constitution, will not help to address the serious security threats facing the country”, said Nicholas Howen.
“The Proclamation suspending the constitution is a direct attack by the President on a judiciary that has acted independently in a series of court cases that touch on the powers of the executive. The President has undermined the separation of powers”, he added.
The ICJ called on the Government to suspend preventive detention orders issued against hundreds of perceived opponents, including at least ten leading lawyers in the country. Lawyers detained include the President and a former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the President of
the Baluchistan Bar Association.
Also detained is ICJ Commissioner and United Nations Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance, Asma Jahangir. She was put under house arrest late on 3 November, under a 90-day preventive detention order, reportedly to prevent her making “inflammatory speeches”. Lawyer Hina Jilani, who is also United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on human rights defenders, is expected to be detained by waiting police when she returns from overseas, under an arrest warrant that has already been issued.
The ICJ called on the Government to permit people to exercise their right to peacefully protest and reminded the authorities that individuals can be held personally and criminally responsible for serious human rights violations, including unlawful violence used against peaceful demonstrators.
About 70 members of the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, including the Executive Director and Secretary-General, were reportedly arrested and detained in a police station, after police used tear gas to break up a meeting in Lahore earlier today, 4 November. Police are reportedly demanding they sign a declaration that they will not participate in demonstrations.
On 3 November, security forces surrounded the Supreme Court with troops and the Government dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who had been reinstated by the Supreme Court in July after an earlier removal in March. Only five of the 17 judges of the Supreme Court reportedly agreed to take a new oath of office.
“In his Proclamation the President says he is committed to the rule of law. We call on the Government immediately to suspend preventive detention orders issued against lawyers, reinstate the dismissed Chief Justice and restore the constitution”, said Nicholas Howen.
The ICJ expressed concern that, contrary to constitutional and international law, the state of emergency has been issued for an indefinite period and that the suspension of the constitution seeks in effect to avoid usual legal constraints on the state of emergency.
“The Government of Pakistan cannot by proclamation remove all legal restraints on emergency powers and other actions of the Government. Under constitutional law in Pakistan and international law that binds Pakistan, the Government is bound to observe the rule of law and not abrogate it”,
said Nicholas Howen.
The proclamation declaring a state of emergency and suspending the constitution, issued on 3 November 2007, principally justifies the President’s actions by accusing the judiciary of interfering in the functions of the executive and legislature. It also invokes the increasing number of terrorist attacks and level of violence in the country.
The ICJ is concerned that the President has retaliated against an independent judiciary. In recent months the Supreme Judicial Council of Pakistan declared unconstitutional an earlier suspension of the Chief Justice by the President and the Supreme Court was due to rule soon on the constitutionality of President Musharraf having stood for President while he was also Commander in Chief of the Army. Earlier this year the Supreme Court also took up on its own initiative a significant number of complaints of enforced disappearances alleged to have been carried out by the security forces.
In April 2007, after the suspension of the former Chief Justice, the ICJ sent a high-level mission to Pakistan, led by senior Malaysian advocate and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy. That mission expressed grave concern at
the history and pattern of attacks on the independence of judges and lawyers in Pakistan, including the detention and suspension in March of the former Chief Justice and the arbitrary detention and torture or ill-treatment of lawyers peacefully demonstrating in support of judicial independence. At the end of the mission, Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy concluded:
“The present judicial crisis, if not resolved soon, could deteriorate and cause irreversible damage to constitutional order in Pakistan. The Mission urges the Government to address the underlying causes of this crisis and to restore a fundamental democratic principle that is pivotal for the rule of law in Pakistan: the independence of the judiciary”.
The ICJ is deeply concerned that the crisis has escalated in Pakistan, rather than being resolved in favour of the rule of law.
For further information, contact the ICJ in Geneva on +41-22-9793800
MARTIN ENNALS AWARD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
PRESS RELEASE : Asma Jahangir, Martin Ennals Award Laureate, under house arrest in Pakistan
As a member of the Jury of the Martin Ennals Award, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is pleased to forward you this press release issued by the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders regarding the house arrest of Ms. Asma Jahangir, 1995 Laureate of the MEA
Asma Jahangir, Laureate Martin Ennals Award, under house arrest in Pakistan.
It is with the deepest concern that the Jury of the Martin Annals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) has learned that its 1995 Laureate, Ms Asma Jahangir, has been put under house arrest for 90 days, as from the 3rd of November 2007.
The grounds for this detention order (SO (IS-I)3 – 34 /200/ – issued by the Home Department of the Government of Punjab) are totally spurious and unsubstantiated (e.g. that she “will deliver inflammatory speeches”). A similar fate awaits her sister, Hina Jilani, who is Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, when she returns from an overseas trip.
The fact that many other progressive lawyers and judges have been targeted with such orders or even imprisoned, shows that this is a purely political move by the Pakistani Government.
Ms Jahangir is a leading human rights lawyer in Pakistan, and recognized as such by many international organizations. In 1998 the United Nations nominated her as Special Rapporteur on extra judicial executions and in 2004 on freedom of religion or belief. She is not only a Laureate of the MEA but also one of the Patrons.
The 10 international NGOs on the Jury of the MEA – as well as the Patrons of the MEA – demand the immediate lifting of the house arrest of Ms Jahangir.
A unique collaboration among 10 of the world’s leading human rights organizations makes the MEA the main prize of the whole movement. The JURY is composed of the following: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organization Against Torture, International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, International Service for Human Rights, Front Line and HURIDOCS.
PAKISTAN: Appeal to the international community to take a firm stand for democracy and human rights
Please read the Urdu translation of AHRC Statement AS-257-2007 from November 5, 2007 by the Asian Human Rights Commission. You can download the Urdu file by clicking on the following link: http://pakistan.ahrchk.net/pdf/AS-257-2007-Urdu.pdf
To read the English original please go to:
OPEN SOCIETY INSTITUTE
OSI Condemns the Declaration of “Emergency” in Pakistan; Calls for Immediate Release of Asma Jahangir and Other Detainees
Contact: Amy Weil, email@example.com, +1-212-548-0381
NEW YORK—The Open Society Institute condemns the imposition of emergency martial law in Pakistan, the dismissal of the Supreme Court, and the arrest and detention of judges, lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders.
We call on the government of Pakistan to restore the independence of the judiciary and the freedom of the press. We demand the immediate release of Asma Jahangir, a member of the Open Society Institute’s international board, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, who has been placed under house arrest.
OSI is deeply concerned for the well-being of civil society activists and independent voices in Pakistan at this time. General Musharraf purports to be taking action because of the threat of violent extremists, but this crackdown is targeting the judiciary, the media, and democratic civil society. We call for the release of all those detained without charges of violent activity, and for the restoration of the suspended 1973 constitution.
We call upon the United States, the United Kingdom, and all other governments to suspend all assistance to the Government of Pakistan. We continue to support the immediate resumption of the democratic process, including free and fair elections in January 2008.
Anthony Richter, Associate Director
Open Society Institute
400 West 59th Street, New York, NY 10019
+1 212 548-0687 tel; +1 212 548-4607 fax
EurasiaNet www.eurasianet.org, Revenue Watch Institute www.revenuewatch.org,
Open Society Institute www.soros.org
PAKISTAN COALITION FOR FREE AND FAIR DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS
While strongly condemning the imposition of Martial law, in the grab of emergency, Pakistan Coalition for Free and Fair Democratic Elections (PACFREL) in its meeting held today in Karachi expressed grave concern and condemned extra judicial and un-constitutional measure taken by the General Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff.
PACFREL reiterates its support to the people of Pakistan in present national crisis and considers that in present situation, free and fair elections are not possible. Therefore, PACFREL strongly demands that:
- An independent election commission should be formed forthwith.
- Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan and other judges of Supreme Court and high courts should immediately be re-instated.
- Independence of the judiciary must be restored with immediate effect. All judges of Supreme Court and High Courts who were sacked unconstitutionally and act according to their conscience and respecting constitution of Pakistan should immediately be restored.
- Curb on print and electronic media should be lifted.
- Lawyers, political and human rights activists arrested all over the country must immediately be released unconditionally.
- Freedom of association and political activities should not be curbed.
Provincial Coordinator, PACFREL
G-22/B/2, Park Lane, Block 5, Clifton, Karachi. Phone: 021- 5273405, Fax: 567 3794
SOUTH ASIAN PEOPLES FORUM (SAPF)
FOR URGENT RELEASE
Toronto Nov 4, 2007: The imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan is an unjustified action against the
people of Pakistan. Fundamental rights and civil liberties must be restored immediately. This was stated in a meeting of the South Asian Peoples Forum in Toronto on Sunday afternoon. The meeting was addressed by Professor Sara Abraham, Mrs. Talat Zehra, Syed Azeem, Ameer Hussain Jaffery and Barrister Abdul Hamid Bashani Khan. The participants expressed their deep concern over the situation and termed it an assault on human rights, civil liberties. The group demanded that the emergency be lifted immediately, release of the hundreds arrested, and democracy be fully restored. South Asian Peoples Forum (SAPF) has expressed its complete solidarity with the democratic forces, Lawyers and human rights activists in Pakistan who oppose this latest ominous development in Pakistan politics. The group has announced that it will organize a demonstration in front of Pakistan Consulate in Toronto at 3:30 pm on Friday afternoon and have called upon South Asian people and friends to collectively come out for this. The group also announced its convening committee, which includes Professor Malcolm Blincow, Professor Aparna Sundar, Professor Sara Abraham, Syed Azeem, Ameer Hussain Jaffery, Talat Zehra, Iqbal Singh, Gurmeet Singh and Barrister Hamid Bashani Khan.
ABDUL HAMID BASHANI KHAN
BARRISTER, SOLICITOR & NOTARY PUBLIC
1325 EGLINTON AVE EAST SUITE 209
MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO, L4W 4L9. CANADA
TEL:905-212-9880 FAX 905-212-9887 , www.hamidlawoffice.com
For the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
URGENT APPEAL – THE OBSERVATORY PAK 001 / 1107 / OBS 136
House arrests / Arrest warrant / Arbitrary detentions / Judicial proceedings / Harassment
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Pakistan.
Brief description of the situation: The Observatory has been informed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) about the arbitrary house arrest of Ms. Asma Jahangir, HRCP Chairperson, human rights lawyer and United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, as well as the arrest warrant issued against Ms. Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Human Rights Defenders.
According to the information received, in a context where the President Musharraf has imposed a state of emergency in Pakistan, suspended the constitution, dismissed the Chief Justice and arrested leading lawyers, Ms. Asma Jahangir was put under house arrest late on November 3, 2007, under a 90 days preventive detention order (SO (IS-I)3 – 24 / 200), issued by the Home Department of the Government of Punjab and reportedly to prevent her making “inflammatory speeches”.
The Observatory was further informed that a house arrest warrant for a period of 90 days has been issued against Ms. Hina Jilani, who is expected to be detained by the police when she returns from overseas.
On November 4, 2007, the police raided the office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan situated at Tipu Block, New Garden Town in Lahore and arrested 55 of its members (1)<!–[endif]–>. Charged with holding “illegal assembly” and interfering with public officers under the Criminal Procedure Code, they were taken into preventive detention under Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance and remanded to the Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore.
Messrs. Syed Igbal Haider and I. A. Rehman, respectively HRCP Secretary General and Executive Director, were also among those arrested and were then placed under house arrest.
On November 5, 2007, Messrs. Igbal Haider and I. A. Rehman, along with the other HRCP members who had been arrested on the day before, appeared before a judge and were sent to the Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore till the next hearing, on November 6, 2007.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern regarding these arbitrary arrests, as they seem to merely aim at sanctioning the mentioned defenders’ human rights activities and strongly condemns these serious violations of fundamental rights and international human rights law.
The Observatory further recalls that, as member of the Human Rights Council, Pakistan is committed to “uphold the highest standards of promotion and protection of human rights”(2)<!–[if !supportFootnotes]–><!–[endif]–>, and therefore urges the Pakistani authorities put an end to any kind of harassment against all human rights defenders in Pakistan.
Please write to the authorities of Pakistan urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Asma Jahangir, Ms. Hina Jilani, Mr. Igbal Haider and Mr. I.A Rehman as well as of all HRCP members currently detained or under house arrest;
ii. Put an end to the house arrest of Ms. Asma Jahangir and release immediately and unconditionally Mr. Igbal Haider, Mr. I.A Rehman as well as all other HRCP members who are currently detained, since their detention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning their human rights activities;
iii. Cancel the warrant of arrest issued against Ms. Hina Jilani as it seems to merely aim at sanctioning her human rights activities;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Pakistan;
v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and article 6, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms (…), freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance (…) of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”.
vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Pakistan.
· General Pervez Musharraf, President, Pakistan Secretariat, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Fax: +92 51 922 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
· Mian Kurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Tel: +92 51 92 10 335, Fax: +92 51 920 7600
· Ghulam Safdar, Joint Secretary for Law, Justice and Human Rights, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Tel: +92 51 921 1278, Fax: +92 51 920 1631
· Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva, Rue de Moillebeau 56, Case postale 434, 1211 Geneva 19, Switzerland, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: +41 22 734 80 85
· Embassy of Pakistan to the EU in Brussels, 57 avenue Delleur, 1170 Watermael-Boitsfort, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 675 83 84, Email: email@example.com
Paris-Geneva, November 5, 2007
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org , Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
1. These 55 human rights activists (31 male and 24 female) included Ms. Shahtaj Qazalbash, Mr. Mehboob Khan, Mr. Nadeem Anthony, Ms. Saleema Hashmi, Ms. Rubina Saigol, Ms. Samina Rehman, Brig. Rao Abid Hameed, Mr. Faisal Akhtar, Mr. Waseem Majeed Malik, Mr. Irfan Barket, Dr. Naseem Ali, Dr. Khurram Iftikhar, Dr. Yousaf Yaseen, Mr. Irshad Choudhry, Imran Qureshi, Shams Mahmood, Zaffar ul Hassan, Khalid Mehmood, Bilal Hassan Minto, Muhammad Bashir, Ali Cheema, Shahid Hafeez, Syed Mozam Ali Shah, Mansoor Ali Shah, Shahzeb Masood, Javed Amin, Suleman Akram, Muhammad Bilal Sabir, Shahid Amin, Khawaja Amjad Hussain, Mahmood Ahmed, Rahim ul Haq, Ashtar Ausaf Ali, Alia Ali, Samia Ali, Azhra Irshad, Jona Anderyas, Ayra Anderyas, Zeba, Neelam Hussain, Gulnar, Sonobar, Sadaf Chughtai, Nasreen Shah, Shaista Parvaiz Malik, Iram Sharif, Amina Sharif, Taina Sabah ud Din, Tamkant Karim, Lala Raukh, Huma Shah, Nasreen Shah, Samia Ameen Khawaja.
2. See OP 9 of General Assembly resolution A/RES/60/251.
Pakistan: End Emergency Rule and Restore Constitution
Move Against ‘Militants’ Brings Crackdown on Civil Society
(New York, November 4, 2007) – Pakistan should immediately return to constitutional rule, restore fundamental rights and end its crackdown on the judiciary, lawyers, media, human rights activists and political opponents, Human Rights Watch said today.
General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani military ruler whose recent election as president had yet to be ratified by the Supreme Court, declared a state of emergency at 5 p.m. on November 3, 2007. Following the declaration, Pakistani authorities arrested hundreds, mostly judges, lawyers, and human rights activists. Musharraf has imposed sweeping censorship rules on the media. All private television channels and international media have been taken off the air.
On November 4, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz suggested that national elections scheduled for January 2008 may be postponed.
“On the pretext of fighting militants, General Musharraf has mounted a coup against Pakistan’s civil society,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Musharraf says the country needs emergency laws to fight fundamentalists, yet the crackdown is focused on the judiciary, lawyers, media and human rights activists. It’s clear this is aimed solely at keeping himself in power.”
On the evening of November 3, a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry convened to issue an order barring the government from proclaiming emergency rule and urging government functionaries not to implement emergency orders. These judges were forcibly removed from the Supreme Court premises by military troops and detained thereafter. Chaudhry, who has led efforts to establish an independent judiciary and had survived an attempt by Musharraf earlier this year to dismiss him, was summarily fired.
Only four of the Supreme Court’s 17 judges have taken an oath of allegiance to the Provisional Constitutional Order issued on November 3 by Musharraf, which suspended the constitution and gave Musharraf almost total power. At least 60 of 97 senior judges in Pakistan have also declined to take an oath. Many have been placed under detention to prevent them from resuming judicial duties.
“Musharraf has claimed he was building the rule of law, but in his single-minded determination to cling to power he has eviscerated the judiciary,” said Adams. “He has exposed himself as nothing more than a petty tyrant.”
Human Rights Watch called for the release of all political activists rounded up by the authorities. On November 4, Aziz said on Pakistan state television that more than 500 people have been arrested. This includes hundreds of lawyers across the country, including Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, office bearers and presidents of provincial bar associations, and virtually all leading lawyers associated with the movement for judicial independence that began on March 9 with the attempted ouster of Chaudhry as chief justice by Musharraf. While some lawyers have been placed in police custody, Human Rights Watch has learned that others, including Ali Ahmed Kurd, a senior lawyer from Balochistan, have been handed over to the military’s feared Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. The ISI has a well-documented history of using torture on its political opponents.
The offices of the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in the central city of Lahore were raided on November 4, and 60 of the country’s most prominent human rights activists were arrested as they attended a meeting. Police had no written orders and are claiming the right to detain those arrested for up to 90 days under the colonial-era Maintenance of Public Order Act. The detainees are being held at the police lock-up in Model Town (Block A), Lahore, and their families have not been allowed access to them.
Asma Jahangir, chairperson of the human rights commission and a United Nations Special Rapporteur, was served a 90-day detention order on the night of November 3. She remains under house arrest after her house was officially deemed a sub-jail.
Around 30 television news channels have gone off the air since November 3. Cable television operators told Human Rights Watch they were asked by the government to stop beaming all local and foreign news channels, except the state-controlled Pakistan Television. Hours later, Musharraf introduced curbs on the media through two decrees amending earlier ordinances barring the media from printing or broadcasting “anything which defames or brings into ridicule the head of state, or members of the armed forces, or executive, legislative or judicial organ of the state.”
The print and electronic media have also been restrained from publishing any material that is likely to “jeopardize or be prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or any material that is likely to incite violence or hatred or create inter-faith disorder or be prejudicial to maintenance of law and order.” Television discussions on anything which is deemed to be “false or baseless” by the regulatory authorities has also been banned.
Journalists have been repeatedly threatened and prevented from covering events following suspension of the constitution, had their equipment confiscated, and been warned that if they record footage of arrests or police raids, they will face arrest and incarceration.
Human Rights Watch urged the United States, Musharraf’s main patron, to end its support for Pakistan’s military government and to seek an urgent return to the rule of law and elected governance in Pakistan. Human Rights Watch welcomed the statement issued by the US embassy in Islamabad calling for the release of those detained and an end to censorship, and the statement from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the US would review its aid to Pakistan. “The United States has never put all of its chips on Musharraf,” she was quoted as saying. Musharraf ignored public calls by senior US government officials not to impose a state of emergency.
“This is as big a test for the Bush administration as it is for Musharraf,” said Adams. “Thus far, Washington’s long support for a military government has merely led to an unprecedented political crisis that could lead Pakistan to disaster, not least in the effort to address international terrorism.”
Pakistan: State of Emergency paves way for escalating human rights abuses
The current State of Emergency in Pakistan is a blatant breach of international law and human rights standards enshrined in the country’s own constitution, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan said today.
Reacting to the military crackdown over the weekend, the organization called for the immediate return to constitutional rule and the release of the hundreds of people detained under the current measures.
“General Musharraf’s actions constitute a direct assault on Pakistan’s judiciary, its vibrant human rights community, independent media and peaceful political dissent,” said Ms Khan. “Measures that have been portrayed as necessary to protect Pakistan are in fact a wholesale abrogation of fundamental human rights protections and dismantle the very institutions and checks and balances that underpin the country’s stability.”
By by-passing the Constitution’s provisions for declaring a state of emergency, General Musharraf suspended the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life, and key elements of the right to a fair trial. Under international law and human rights standards, reflected in the Constitution of Pakistan, these rights must be fully and unconditionally respected in all circumstances, whether or not a public emergency exists.
“Musharraf’s actions also fly in the face of commitments set out in the emergency declaration itself to uphold the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.”
The suspension of judges and their effective house arrest plainly violate core provisions of the UN Principles for the Independence of the Judiciary. Judges may not be removed by the executive, except in cases of incapacity or if they are unfit to discharge their duty.
“Amnesty International fears that this assault on key institutions of accountability, combined with sweeping emergency powers, will exacerbate existing patterns of human rights abuse, including torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and use of excessive force to suppress peaceful dissent,” said Ms Khan
HIGH COMMISSIONER ALARMED ABOUT PAKISTAN STATE OF EMERGENCY
Press release of the High Commissioner
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said today she is alarmed over the suspension of fundamental rights and imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan.
Pakistan has not ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but the High Commissioner noted that, under accepted rules of international law, fundamental rights, such as the right to life, the prohibition on arbitrary detention, torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, cannot be suspended even in times of emergency. Such far-reaching restrictions of rights must be proportional and may only be applied to the extent and for the time strictly required by the situation.
“A state of emergency should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary”, the High Commissioner said.
The High Commissioner expressed concern about reports that leading judges, lawyers and political and human rights activists have been detained or placed under house arrest, including United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Asma Jahangir. The High Commissioner called on the Pakistan authorities to clarify the status of those detained and ensure that no one is detained for the peaceful exercise of their political beliefs.
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST TAKE ACTION
Stop Attacks on Civil Society in Pakistan
“Assault on the Legal Profession No Answer to the Threat of Terrorism”
Human Rights First Condemns Pakistan’s State of Emergency
Pakistani President and Chief of the Armed Forces, General Pervez Musharraf, announced the imposition of a state of emergency on November 3. With immediate effect, the President suspended the Pakistani Constitution, dismissed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Chaudhry, and placed him and other members of the Supreme Court under house arrest when they refused to support the move, and announced stringent new restrictions on the media.
Among the reported 1,500 members of the opposition, judiciary and military targeted for arrest and detention, are several leading lawyers imprisoned under 30 day preventive detention orders. The detainees include the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan and two former presidents, Muneer Malik and Tariq Mahmoud. Other leading lawyers, including heads of bar associations, have gone into hiding to avoid detention.
Many other public figures, including political leaders and activists have been placed under house arrest, among them the prominent lawyer and human rights activist, Asma Jahangir, who is a previous recipient of the Human Rights First Human Rights Award and the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. Her detention order described her activities as “prejudicial to public safety and maintenance of public order” and cited “credible information that you will deliver inflammatory speeches for instigating the general public.”
Executive Director of Human Rights First, Maureen Byrnes, commented: “An assault on the legal profession and on non-violent critics in the media is no answer to the threat of terrorism and extremism in Pakistan or anywhere else. President Musharraf should immediately restore the basic rights and freedoms upheld in the Constitution, reinstate the Supreme Court and release from detention and house arrest all those subject to detention orders since the declaration of the state of emergency.”
President Musharraf’s declaration of emergency powers contained many overt criticisms of the judiciary, accusing judges of “overstepping limits of judicial authority.” The announcement came at a time when the Supreme Court was about to rule on the legality of President’s Musharraf’s re-election last month, when he stood while also serving as the head of Pakistan’s armed forces. It was widely predicted that the court’s ruling would go against the President, who had tried to remove the Chief Justice from office earlier this year. At that time, widespread protests led by the Pakistani legal profession resulted in the Chief Justice remaining in office.
President Musharraf justified his action by describing it as a necessary measure against instability and the mounting threat of terrorism. In a statement from Lahore, Asma Jahangir commented: “Those he has arrested are progressive, secular minded people while the terrorists are offered negotiations and ceasefires.”
“Arresting lawyers and judges will make Pakistan’s crisis worse,” said Byrnes. “Pakistan needs an immediate return to the rule of law, not an attack on the independence of the judiciary.”
New York, 5 November 2007 – Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Pakistan
The Secretary-General is greatly concerned about the recent developments in Pakistan and the imposition of emergency rule. He expresses his strong dismay at the detention of hundreds of human rights and opposition activists, including the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
The Secretary-General urges the Pakistan authorities to immediately release those detained, to lift restrictions on the media and to take early steps for a return to democratic rule. He appeals to the Government of Pakistan to hold the Parliamentary elections as scheduled.
Ban Ki-moon urges Pakistan to release detained, return to democratic rule
5 November 2007 – Reacting to the imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the country’s authorities to release those who have been detained, including a United Nations human rights expert, and to take steps for a return to democratic rule.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General expressed his “strong dismay at the detention of hundreds of human rights and opposition activists, including the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief,” Asma Jahangir. He urged the authorities to immediately release those detained, to lift restrictions on the media and to take early steps for a return to democratic rule, and appealed to the Government of Pakistan to hold the Parliamentary elections as scheduled.
In Geneva, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour voiced alarm at the suspension of fundamental rights and imposition of a state of emergency and called on the country’s authorities to clarify the status of the detained and ensure that no one is held for their political beliefs.
In a statement, Ms. Arbour expressed concern about reports that leading judges, lawyers and political and human rights activists have been detained or placed under house arrest, including Ms. Jahangir. “A state of emergency should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary,” the High Commissioner said. The prohibition on arbitrary detention, torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, cannot be suspended even in times of emergency, she said. Such far-reaching restrictions of rights must be proportional and may only be applied to the extent and for the time strictly required by the situation, she noted.
ALL PAKISTAN TRADE UNION FEDERATION
Let us claim the world over for immediate cancellation of the state of emergency in Pakistan
On November 3rd, 2007, a state of emergency has been imposed to Pakistan. In the days that followed, arrests have been multiplied. Demonstrations have been banned, and constitutional rights suspended.
All Pakistan Trade Union Federation supports the demand of trade unions and democratic organisations in Pakistan that the State of emergency be immediately cancelled, all prisoners released and the right of expression and association guaranteed.
The All Pakistan Trade Union Federation send its support and solidarity especially to democratic organisations/ activists/ lawyers/ journalists/peasants and all trade unions in Pakistan. We call to send declarations from all over the world asking for the immediate cancellation of the State of emergency and the restoration of all elementary democratic rights.
We invite you to send these demands to the Pakistani authorities and to communicate to us your initiatives, in order to be able to inform Pakistani trade unions which are engaged in a fight for the defence of democratic rights and the right to organise.
Send telegrams and declarations to:
-The President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, General Musharaff
President House- Islamabad, Pakistan.
- The Embassies of Pakistan in your own country
Send a copy to the APTUF <firstname.lastname@example.org>
APTUF: 14-N, Industrial Area, Gulberg II, Lahore Pakistan Fax: 92-42-5314365 Email: email@example.com
SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
SPARC asks International Community, Donors to take serious Stand against Government to Protect Supremacy of law.
The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) strongly criticizes the state of emergency and calls it unconstitutional, illegal and slap on the face of the nation. Emergency will serve and protect only interests of few people but not the nation. The emergency will further weaken institutions. The independency of judiciary is at stake which holds the key and hope for common man of any relief. The response of front line
political parties is very disappointing and they have failed to mobilize public support. So far, the media and lawyers community is fighting on the behalf of nation. International community needs to understand and share the feelings of Pakistani people, and should stand by them in this situation of crisis. The emergency decision of Mr. Musharraf is very unpopular. He does not have courage to face the criticism of public, media, and politicians. The Government inability to handle the security situation and linking it with Judiciary is a stupidity and dangerous. Any action by terrorist elements against the government will get sympathies of public. This will further promote the extremism in country, not reduce it.
Mr. Qindeel Shujaat, Executive Director of SPARC says,” Today the International community, donor organizations and other technical and international organizations also face the issue of credibility. It will be criminal if they remain silent on emergency and do not respond. They might need to suspend or review their relationships with government till the decision is not reverted. Pakistani civil society today expects international communities to practice what they preach. International donors have been supporting and advocating for the strengthening of democracy and supremacy of law, and have supported institutions to promote judicial activism. Unfortunately, when we were almost there, emergency was imposed. As a result, whatever has been achieved in previous years will be lost. With strict bars and bans on the freedom of expression, speech and movement, civil society in Pakistan is facing difficulties to mobilize and pressurize government. The time has come up that countries, particularly west, speak of principles and should share the interests of public through concrete actions.”
SPARC urges the public to stand up and oppose the decision at all and every forum. We now have a chance to prove this year for once and all that we will not accept individuals but institutions, and no one can be above law including President and Prime Minister. All disposed judges should be restored in their positions with respect and dignity. “We must wake-up before it is too late.”
NATIONAL UNION OF PEOPLE’S LAWYERS
Lawyers condemn attack on colleagues in pakistan; Demand Lifting of Emergency Rule
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers [NUPL] condemns the brutal arrest of at least 1,500 lawyers in Pakistan who were merely exercising their right to assemble and protest against the emergency rule imposed by Pakistani military chief and President Pervez Musharraf. The firing of teargas by the military on the Supreme Court of Pakistan is totally unacceptable because it is a blatant attack on the independence of the judiciary. We also condemn Pres. Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule to quell ‘judicial activism’ and terrorism as nothing more than a blatant violation of the Pakistani peoples’ civil and political rights in his attempt to maintain his position as President.
NUPL urges Pres. Musharraf to respect the rights of members of the legal profession, even those opposed to his continuing hold to power as these are guaranteed rights under international law. Section 3 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the 1990 UN Congress on Prevention of Crime states that:
3. Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations x x x
Section 1 of The Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary endorsed by the UN General Assembly Resolution 40/32 in 1985 also requires governments’ respect for the judiciary:
1. The independence of the judiciary shall be guaranteed by the State x x x It is the duty of all governmental and other institutions to respect and observe the independence of the judiciary.
NUPL calls on members of the legal profession in the Philippines to actively condemn these brutal attacks on colleagues in Pakistan and show solidarity to those who are experiencing repression similar to that committed against Filipino lawyers by Pres. Gloria Arroyo. Twenty lawyers and twelve judges have been killed since Pres. Arroyo came to power in 2001. More than 38 cases of harassment and attacks against lawyers have been recorded including the harassment of a lawyers rally protesting Pres. Arroyo’s declaration of emergency rule last year.
NUPL, a national organization of human rights lawyers, urges Pres. Musharraf to lift the emergency rule, respect human rights and allow the people to exercise their right to elect their President. NUPL join hands with concerned lawyers worldwide in condemning this latest attack on members of the legal profession for the exercise of the right to assembly and expression.
NUPL NATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD:
Chairperson – Atty. Romeo T. Capulong (NCR) President – Atty. Frederico Gapuz (Cagayan de Oro)
Secretary General - Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares
for Luzon - Atty. Jose Molintas (Cordillera Autonomous Region) for Visayas -Atty. Alfonso Cinco IV (Cebu)
for Mindanao -Atty. Carlos Zarate (Davao)
Treasurer – Atty. Noemi Truya (Cebu) Auditor – Atty. Janne Baterna (Iloilo)
Deputy Secretaries General:
Legal Services -Atty. Rachel Pastores (NCR) Education & Research -Atty. Claire Padilla (NCR)
Campaign & Advocacy - Atty. Jobert Pahilga (NCR) Organization & Membership-Grace Saguinsin (NCR) Protection & Welfare -Atty. Alberto Hidalgo (Leyte) International Solidarity -Atty. Edre Olalia (NCR)
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION; URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
UG-008-2007: State sanctioned attack on justices, lawyers and activists challenging the emergency
PAKISTAN: State of emergency; unlawful arrest and detention; denial of fundamental rights; no rule of law
In addition to what has been widely reported, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the plight of justices, lawyers and activists who had been unlawfully placed under house arrest and detained following the state of emergency in 3 November 2007. The justices and lawyers had been targeted to suppress any form of demonstration challenging the imposition of emergency rule. The justices who refused to take allegiance to the provisional constitution being proposed by President Pervez Musharraf have been under intense pressure.
Justices house padlocked; ailing children denied treatment
Forty-six court justices, including Chief Justice Iftekhar Choudhry of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, have continuously been placed under house arrest. Padlocks were placed on their houses by security forces. Chief Justice Choudhry could not even buy medicine for his seriously ill son, who required regular medication from a pharmacy, because the security forces guarding his place have prevented him from going out. Those inside the house are also not allowed to contact doctors to attend to the sick. They padlocked the doors inside and outside the house.
Another justice, Sardar Raza Khan, was also prevented from getting his seriously ill son the medical attention he required. SC justice Rana Bhagwandas, who has a heart ailment, has also not been allowed
to go outside his house for his daily walk. Bhagwandas’s 2-year-old grandson, who is together with him inside the house, has been refused from going outside.
The son of Justice Sabih Uddin Ahmed of Sindh province has also been brutally beaten and arrested when he refused to take the oath on Provisional Constitution Order (PCO). Sources from the Pakistan Bar Council and other Bar Associations also indicate that other justices of Supreme Court and courts in different provinces who refused to take oath under the provisional constitution have been facing intense
pressure from the military government. Other houses of justices had their supply of water cut off.
The siblings of justices, particular those who are lawyers, have also been arrested to put pressure on justices into taking the oath under provisional constitution. Justices were also prevented from entering their own courts.
Hundreds of lawyers attacked, arrested
On November 5, security forces brutally beat and used teargas against a crowd of lawyers holding demonstrations in different places in the country. Over 400 lawyers were injured, including women, and over 3,500 lawyers have already been arrested in the past three days since the emergency was imposed.
In Lahore City, Punjab, about 350 of the 1,700 lawyers in the province have already been arrested. In Karachi City, Sindh about 650 lawyers were arrested. In Balochistan province, about 250 lawyers were arrested, including those in the city of Quetta. In the North West Frontier, including in the city of Peshawar, about 300 lawyers were arrested. In Punjab, female lawyers are being detained even in toilets. The lawyers are kept in different jails, in bad conditions and are denied visits by their family members.
Arrest of human rights defender, journalists
Ms. Asma Jehangir, head of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Pakistan, has been placed under house arrest after the state of emergency was imposed. Jehangir is also the U.N. Special Rapporteur
on freedom of religion and belief. She will remain under arrest in the next three months under the public order ordinance. Reports indicate that security forces came to her house, surrounding it and told her she could not leave.
Jehangir’s arrest has effectively ceased the HRC from functioning independently, denying any remedies for victims of human rights violations. It has given the assurance of impunity to the security forces to whatever act of atrocities they have committed and would have to commit in the coming days as the emergency rule continues to take effect.
More than 15 journalists have also been arrested for covering news events, three of whom were brutally beaten and injured by security forces. The arrest of journalists is obviously aimed at suppressing the flow of information. It has become difficult to get information reflecting the real state of the Pakistani people in the country in recent days.
Reports of news event can only be viewed at media outlets operated and run by the government. Private and independent media institutions have been prevented from broadcasting as they were allowed to do before. Several television and radio stations have ceased to broadcast freely. Censorship on newspapers has prevented them from printing news and photographs critical of President Musharraf and his government.
You can also read previous statements on this:
AHRC gravely concerned about the safety of lawyers and journalists
Historic verdict reinstates chief justice, challenges dictatorship
AHRC condemns the attack at the venue of the meeting at which the Chief Justice was to speak and calls for an inquiry into the incident
AHRC condemns arrests of campaigners in support of the Chief Justice in Punjab
Please write letters to authorities demanding for the unconditional release of justices, lawyers, activists and others who are placed under house arrest and in detention under the state of emergency. The welfare of the ailing persons requiring regular medication must be ensured. The families of the detainees must be allowed visits. Please also write letters to your own government, embassies and consulates of Pakistan in your country expressing grave concern on the targeted attack on justices, lawyers, activists and demanding for the lifting of state of emergency.
To support this appeal, please click here:
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Ban Ki-Moon
Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary General
S-378 New York
NY 10017, USA
Tel: +1 212 963 5012, Fax: +1 212 963 7055 or 2155 (ATTN: SECRETARY GENERAL)
2. Ms. Louise Arbour
UN High Commission on Human Rights
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917-9006 (ATTN: HIGH COMMISSIONER)
3. Mr. Doru Romulus Costea
UN Human Rights Council
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9012 (ATTN: PRESIDENT HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL)
4. Ms. Leila Zerrougui
Working Group on arbitrary detention
1211 Geneva 10, SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTENTION: WORKING GROUP ARBITRARY DETENTION)
5. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders
1211 Geneva 10,SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88, Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS)
6. Mr. Ambeyi Ligabo
Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression
c/o J Deriviero
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10, SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9177, Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION)
7. Homayoun Alizadeh
OHCHR Regional Office for Southeast Asia
Room 601, Block A, 6th Floor
Rajdamnern Nok Avenue
Tel: + 662 288 1496/ 1235,Fax: +662 288 3009
Society of American Law Teachers Statement Regarding the State of Emergency in Pakistan
November 6, 2007
Contact: Eileen Kaufman, Touro Law Center, 631 761-7125, Tayyab Mahmud, Seattle University School of Law, 206 398-4148
The Society of American Law Teachers, the largest membership organization of law professors in the United States, deplores and condemns the abrogation of the Rule of Law in Pakistan. General Musharraf, in a brazen attempt to perpetuate his own rule, has used his state apparatus to disband the highest courts of the country. Thousands of lawyers, journalists, judges, and human rights activists have been jailed. In many cases families have no idea of the whereabouts of the detainees.
Among those detained is Asma Jahangir, chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, recipient of the 1999 Human Rights Award from Human Rights First, and United Nations Special Rapporteur. She has been placed under house arrest based on “credible information that [she] will deliver inflammatory speeches for instigating the general public.” A detention order has also been issued for Hina Jilani, Jahangir’s sister who serves as the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Human Rights Defenders.
Also arrested is Muneer Malik, a graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law and the Immediate Past President of the Pakistani Supreme Court Bar Association, known to be a conscientious, industrious lawyer dedicated to the welfare of his country, and not in the least a threat to law and order.
Aitzaz Ahsan, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, was among hundreds of lawyers associated with the movement supporting judicial independence to be arrested on November 4th. Some of these lawyers are in police custody; others have reportedly been turned over to the military’s Inter Services Intelligence agency, which has a long history of employing torture on political opponents.
The Supreme and High Court judges have been locked in their own homes. Police have stormed into bar association gatherings and have manhandled lawyers, some of them septuagenarian. TV stations have been blacked out and police vans are carting off telecommunication equipment from private TV stations.
The US must use all its influence and in no uncertain terms demand the restoration of the Supreme Court status quo ante November 2, 2007. It must demand the immediate release of and accounting for all persons who have been jailed after the promulgation of the so-called emergency. It should be recalled that President Musharraf removed the Chief Justice once before and was forced to rescind his order because of the pressure of lawyers within Pakistan as well as world opinion.
The Society of American Law Teachers joins with other human rights organizations to call for President Musharraf to:
· Immediately revoke Provisional Constitution Order # 1 of 2007;
- Immediately release from detention and house arrest all those detained after the declaration of a “state of emergency”;
- Immediately reinstate the Supreme Court and Provincial High Courts;
· Hold fair and free general elections monitored by international observers.
Hazel Weiser, Executive Director
Society of American Law Teachers — SALT
Public Advocacy Center, Room 223
Touro Law Center, 225 Eastview Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) – Press release PAKISTAN
*Further attacks on the judiciary; The international community must react
Paris, 14 November 2007* – The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), FIDH member organization, reported yesterday the names of 578 persons arrested since the state of emergency in Pakistan, among which journalists, lawyers and political activists arrested in various provinces of Pakistan (Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP). While some have been released, many remain detained. As stressed by HRCP, this is far from an exhaustive list.
Lawyers and political activists continue to be arrested : over 900 lawyers are in detention in Lahore, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Kasur alone. On 13 November, the former Chairperson of HRCP, Afrasiab Khattak, was also arrested as well as some prominent lawyers in Karachi. In Lahore, many released earlier are being rearrested.
In a new move to further consolidate army rule in the country, on 10 November 2007, President General Pervez Musharraf promulgated an Ordinance amending the Pakistan Army Act (1952) by giving power to military courts for trying civilians for a wide range of offences. The amendments take effect retroactively from January 1st, 2003.
“/This blatantly goes against the principle of independence and impartiality of the judiciary, as under international human rights law, civilians should always be brought to trial by regular courts in all cases/”, said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.
The amended Army Act gives power to the military courts to try numerous offences punishable under various pieces of legislation, including the Prevention of Anti-national Activities Act (1974) and the Anti-Terrorism Act (1997), as well as the attempt to commit any of the said offences. FIDH already strongly criticized the Anti-terrorism Act in the past because of its inordinately wide definition of terrorist offences, of the wide powers it gives to law enforcement personnel opening the door to abuse by the police, and for its violations of the fair trial guarantees. (1)
The Attorney General reportedly justified these amendments on the ground that they were essential for combating terrorism. FIDH recalls that there can be no trade-off between effective action against terrorism and the protection of human rights. On the contrary, as stressed by Kofi Annan, “/in the long term, we shall find that human rights, along with democracy and social justice, are one of the best prophylactics against terrorism./” (2)
In addition, it has been announced that amendments will be brought to the Bar Council Act that will empower judges to grant, suspend or cancel licenses of lawyers – task which presently depends upon the Bar Council. “/Such amendments also aim at targeting the independence of lawyers, and at silencing them in order to strengthen Musharraf’s grip on the country/”, added Ms. Belhassen.
The Pakistani authorities have cracked down hard on the media since the start of the state of emergency: extremely restrictive regulations for the print and broadcast media were issued on November 3, which prohibit reports on a number of issues considered sensitive, with the possibility of imposing high fines, prison sentences, and confiscating equipment in case of violation.
FIDH echoes the requests of the Pakistani civil society that before any free and fair election may take place:
* the Emergency and Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) must be immediately withdrawn, and the Constitution fully restored,
* the deposed chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts who did not take oath under the PCO must be reinstated in their functions,
* to liberate all lawyers, journalists, civil society activists and political prisoners,
* the proposed amendments to the Bar Council Act must be withdrawn,
* General Musharraf must make way for a political process to thwart out his exit strategy.
FIDH welcomes November 12th decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to set out a number of measures that Pakistan must implement before 22 November 2007; it will otherwise face suspension from the Commonwealth as the government of Pakistan violated the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values.
FIDH now calls upon the UN Human Rights Council, of which Pakistan is a member, to urgently convene a special session in order to discuss about the serious setbacks for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan. “/As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the Pakistani government has a special obligation to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights/”, concluded Souhayr
> Belhassen. “/It is now time for the international community to condemn unanimously the recent events in Pakistan, and to call for immediate measures before any election can be held/”.
*Press contact: Karine Appy/Gaël Grilhot : + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / +33 1 43 55 25 18*
(1) See FIDH/HRCP Report “The death penalty in Pakistan, Slow march to the gallows”, January 2007.
(2) Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Speech to the members of the Security Council on 18 January 2002.
SANSAD – South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy
We in SANSAD are shocked by General Pervez Musharraf's decision to impose the state of emergency and suspend the constitution of Pakistan.
We condemn the promulgation of the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO). It is an assault on the already fragile democratic institutions of the country. Clause 2 (1) of the PCO issued by the Chief of Army Staff gives powers to the President to "amend the Constitution, as is deemed expedient." This is nothing but a recipe for imposing personal, dictatorial rule over 160 million Pakistanis. The PCO further gives the President and Prime Minister total indemnity as the courts cannot give any judgment that is against these individuals or anyone they give authority to.
We in SANSAD believe that such sweeping powers to the President and the Prime Minister are not only detrimental for political and civil rights of the people of Pakistan, but would also further entrench the military in the state, economy and social life of the country.
We condemn the suspension of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan and the large-scale arrests of politicians, lawyers, judges, and human rights activists.
We seriously doubt General Musharraf's stated claim that the Emergency has been imposed to fight extremists' militancy in the country. We believe that his policies of carrying out the US agenda and its "war on terror" are principally responsible for the rise of militancy in the country.
We demand that General Pervez Musharraf be removed as the Chief of Army Staff and the President without delay. We demand that a transition government of national consensus be formed which should hold fair and free elections within 90 days, so that the political power is finally transferred to the duly elected representatives of Pakistani people and the role of the military in the governance of Pakistan brought to an end.
We also demand that the United States stop all military assistance to the Musharraf regime, and stop all interferences in the internal affairs of the country.
We express solidarity with all democratic forces of Pakistan who have bravely challenged authoritarian moves of General Pervez Musharraf.
JOINT INDIA-PAKISTAN PEACE NETWORK (IPPN) is deeply concerned on the imposition of emergency in Pakistan
The Diaspora of India and Pakistan, in particular the citizens of Pakistan living in Canada, are deeply saddened and gravely concerned on the imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan by General Pervez Musharraf.
We are also very concerned about the safety of journalists, political leaders, opposition leaders, lawyers & judges, peace and human rights activists, and common men & women who refused to accept this action taken by the government. Hundreds of such people have either been put in jails or house arrested for unspecified reasons. All activities of Media and Press have been banned and Public basic rights have been cut to the least.
IPPN and its associate NGOs have contributed tremendously to help promote peace and good relationship between the two neighboring nuclear powers India and Pakistan. It is a direct result of those tireless efforts of track-2 policy i.e. people-to-people contact that we see today a great deal of confidence building and socio-economic development between the two countries.
With the imposition of state of emergency and curbing the basic political and democratic rights of the people of Pakistan, we believe that not only Pakistan and people of Pakistan would suffer heavy losses and encourage further extremism but also the existing process of peace and confidence building between India and Pakistan would be badly affected.
We also feel that the current situation in Pakistan is a direct outcome of least thoughtful policies of General Musharraf and his government that has been in sole-rule for over eight years. The imposition of state of emergency would in no way improve the situation in Pakistan or help improve its relations with the neighboring countries; rather, it would be detrimental in all respects.
We, there, demand General Pervez Musharraf to remove state of emergency (which is practically a Martial Law) with immediate effect, reinstate judges and restore judicial system, release all those arrested unlawfully, restore freedom of media and hold fair & transparent general elections as soon as possible, and allow the new duly elected government to run the country and its affairs including so-called fight against terrorism.
We also ask the international community, supporters and friends of Pakistan to sincerely, openly and clearly demand and pursue on General Musharraf to remove state of emergency and one-man rule, restore Constitution of Pakistan and democratic process in Pakistan without any delay.