HRCP PRESS RELEASE
On his return from Geneva, Mr. Iqbal Haider, Secretary General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) stated that during his four days stay in Geneva last week starting from 10th December, he had the opportunity to address the 6th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). He also addressed two separate seminars one organized by International Commission of Jurists and the other by Interfaith International on the Prevailing Political Conditions and violations of Human Rights in Pakistan.
Mr. Haider disclosed that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Louise Arbour, while presenting her report in the Human Rights Council (HRC) on the Human Rights Situations world over had expressed her concern also over the conditions in Pakistan, inter-alia, that “.. emergency rule and actions taken under it have inflicted severe, long-term injury to the judiciary and to civil society. All possible corrective measures should be put in to place to restore confidence in fully independent judicial system in Pakistan”.
Mr. Haider participated in the debate on item 4 of the Agenda relating to “Human Rights situations that require the HRC’s attention”. On behalf of HRCP and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Mr. Haider, while addressing the Council, expressed deepest concern over the dramatic setback in the field of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Pakistan.
He stated that during the weeks following the proclamation of the so-called state of emergency and the suspension of the Constitution by General Pervez Musharaf, thousands of citizens including the Chief Justice and Judges of the Superior Courts, Lawyers, including Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan President of Supreme Court Bar Association, Mr. Justice (R) Tariq Mehmood Former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd Former Vice Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council and other lawyers, Journalists, Teachers and Students, Trade Union Leaders and Human Rights defenders were – or are still being victimized, attacked, detained, tortured or put under house arrest.
In addition, severe restrictions on the print and electronic media are persisting.
In Pakistan, the cases of enforced disappearances that were pending before the Supreme Court are not being heard now, nor are the whereabouts of disappeared peoples being disclosed by the authorities.
Immediately after the proclamation of the so-called state of emergency, the Chief Justice, Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhary, along with several Supreme Court and provincial High Court’s Judges, were dismissed, as General Pervez Musharaf personally felt threatened.
General Elections in Pakistan are scheduled for 9th January, 2008. However, I have to state with regret that this election is not a step forwards sustainable democracy. Unfortunately, under present conditions, it is aimed at sustaining the dictatorship.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you will all agree that there can be no right without remedy, no remedy without independent judiciary, no rule of law without the implementation of the Constitution and the laws made by Parliament.
On behalf of FIDH and HRCP he urged Government of Pakistan to:
- forthwith release and reinstatement of Chief Justice Chaudhary and the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts who did not take oath under the PCO,
- forthwith withdraw the Emergency and Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), in any case no later than 16th December 2007, as President Musharaf declared, and restore the Constitution along with all Fundamental Rights, without any unconstitutional amendments,
- forthwith appoint a truly independent, impartial effective Election Commission,
- forthwith free all lawyers, journalists, civil society activists and political prisoners,
- forthwith appoint neutral caretaker Government at the Federal and Provincial levels,
- forthwith withdraw all amendments in PEMRA ordinance and restrictions on the electronic and print media, and on freedom of expressions,
- forthwith withdraw all amendments in Army Act
He also urged the UN Human Rights Council to adopt effective measures for the implementation of the aforesaid recommendations, and to adopt a resolution firmly condemning the current situation.
Several other countries and NGOs in their statements presented in the Human Rights Council also expressed their concern over the situation in Pakistan. Some of such countries and NGOs included Portugal (On Behalf of the European Union), France, United States, Amnesty International, International Commission for Jurists (ICJ), Human Rights.