Letters to the President, Ambassadors, etc.

Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Program – The Carter Centre, Freedom House, Global Rights, Humans Rights First, Human Rights Watch, International Justice Mission, International League for Human Rights, Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Robert F Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights

 

November 13, 2007
The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Rice:

We are writing to urge a significant increase in U.S. pressure on the Government of Pakistan to end martial law and to release those who have been detained or are under house arrest. This increased pressure should include a strong, unequivocal statement from President Bush explicitly condemning martial law and the subsequent arrests, and a cutoff of all security assistance until these repressive steps are reversed.

Although President Musharraf has sought to justify the suspension of the constitution as a response to terrorism and extremism, martial law has from the start constituted an attack on the independence of the judiciary and on civil society. As you know, President Musharraf has purged the Supreme Court of independent-minded judges. The arrests have targeted moderate and democratic critics of his rule: human rights activists, lawyers, and members of opposition political parties. It is critical for the United States government to condemn these serious human rights violations, and for senior U.S. officials to express these concerns s clearly and forcefully.

Senior U.S. officials, including President Bush, have criticized the emergency measures and called for a return to democracy. However, such statements were not linked to any explicit statement of consequences should the Musharraf government fail to reverse the rapidly deteriorating human rights situation.

The human rights community is in full support of effective and appropriate multilateral counterterrorism measures. However, even tacit support for this imposition of martial law in Pakistan can be expected to set back efforts to address terrorism in that country and throughout the region. Violation of fundamental human rights standards and violent repression of non-violent critics of the government will only increase popular support for militant groups. The imposition of a state of emergency by the Musharraf government flies in the face of the Administration’s policy of supporting freedom and democracy as an antidote to extremism.

We strongly urge you to send a clear, consistent, and public message to the Government of Pakistan. We also urge you to call for the immediate release of those detained or held under house arrest, a rescinding of the emergency orders and any restrictions on press freedom, a full restoration of the constitution, and the reinstatement of all judges who have been removed from their positions. Without such measures, free and fair elections will not be possible.

We urge you specifically to call on the Pakistani authorities to immediately release the leading jurists and advocates now under house arrest or in detention, including members of the Supreme Court and its bar association, U.N. Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir, and officials of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Until these steps are taken and the rule of law is restored, all security assistance to the Government of Pakistan, including military assistance, should be suspended, to put added pressure on the Government of Pakistan to meet its international human rights obligations.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this urgent matter.
Sincerely,

Mr. Larry Cox, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA; Ms. Karin Ryan, Director, Human Rights Program – The Carter Center; Ms. Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director, Freedom House; Mr. Salih Booker, Executive Director, Global Rights; Ms. Maureen Byrnes, Executive Director, Human Rights First; Mr. Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch; Mr. Gary Haugen, President, International Justice Mission; Mr. Robert Arsenault, President, International League for Human Rights; Ms. Felice D. Gaer, Director Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights; Ms. Robin Phillips, Executive Director, Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights; Mr. Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive Officer, Physicians for Human Rights; Ms. Monika Kalra Varma, Director,Robert F Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights

INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (FIDH)
Deep concern regarding the decision to proclaim the state of emergency

Open letter to President Musharraf

General Pervez Musharraf,
President, Chief of Army Staff
Islamabad, Pakistan
Paris, November 5th 2007

Dear Mr. President,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) expresses its deepest concern regarding the recent developments in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and your decision to proclaim the state of emergency in the country, since November 3rd 2007. The objectives and the scope of such an action constitute a flagrant breach to the international standards and the constitutional rule of law in Pakistan.

FIDH draws your attention to the fact that the most basic rights such as the right to life, the interdiction of torture and slavery or servitude, the fair trial guarantees, the legal capacity of the person and the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion cannot be derogated under any circumstances, according to the international law which defines the conditions of proclamation of the rule of emergency and its conformity with international human rights standards. The above mentioned rights, guaranteed by International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), constitute a body of principles widely accepted and are therefore part of international customary law in the field of fundamental freedoms.

We note that throughout your statement, you repeatedly attacked the judiciary power and its alleged interference into actions and responsibilities of the executive. However, the Supreme Court and the judiciary in general have an essential role to play as guardians of the constitutional order and the separation of the power in order to ensure the strict respect of the constitution and of human rights and public liberties. FIDH has recently called upon you to respect the independence of the judiciary, including the lawyer’s freedom to act, under all circumstances, as the most central and indispensable feature of a democratically functioning State.

FIDH remains very worried about the fate of members of its affiliated league, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) following the storming, Sunday November 4th 2007, by police officers of the HRCP head office in Lahore, where more than 55 activists were arrested and detained, including the Executive Director of HRCP Mr. A.I. Rehman and the HRCP Secretary General Iqbal Haider. All 55 human rights activists were brought before the Judicial Magistrate today, November 5th 2007 and were sent to Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore. According to the information received, around 70 members, throughout the country, are currently either under arrest and detention in several police stations, either under house arrest. FIDH draws your attention to the house arrest order, for a period of 90 days, issued against the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Mrs Asma Jahangir, also President of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. In addition, we deplore the house order issued against Mrs Hina Jilani, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders. We request you to immediately proceed to lifting those measures and avoid any further action of repression and harassment against human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, other activists and members of political parties.

Furthermore, FIDH remains worried about the arbitrary use of violence by police forces against demonstrators in more than three cities. Police has allegedly used tear gas and batons to break up demonstrations by lawyers protesting against the rule of emergency and has proceeded to numerous arrests and arbitrary detentions.

Mr. President, you justified your decision by the necessity to fight terrorism. Notwithstanding this motivation, we would like to remind you that any action that States undertake in the fight against terrorism must be respectful of the international legal framework and certainly not be used as an excuse to derogate constitutional and international guarantees for political motives. FIDH urges you to return, as soon as possible, to civil rule and protect and promote human rights as enshrined in Pakistan’s Constitution and in international human rights instruments. We firmly believe that the strict respect of human rights by the State of Pakistan is a prerequisite to fight any kind of extremism and political or religious fundamentalism as well as terrorism. In addition, Pakistan, as member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, should uphold the respect of fundamental rights to the highest standards. We urge, once again, the Pakistani authorities to ensure respect for human rights in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in all circumstances.

Sincerely,

Souhayr Belhassen
President

 

 

Press contact : Karine Appy + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 1 43 55 25 18 – kappy@fidh.org
Karine Appy
Attachée de presse
Press Officer
FIDH
+33 1 43 55 14 12; +33 1 43 55 25 18; +33 6 68 42 93 47

http://www.fidh.org
frontline
FRONTLINE

General Pervez Musharraf
President
Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad
Pakistan
7 November 2007

Re: Mass arrests of lawyers and human rights defenders

Your Excellency,

Front Line is gravely concerned by the information received concerning the arbitrary arrest of 55 human rights defenders, the house arrest of Ms Asma Jahangir, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, as well as the impending arrest warrant that has been issued against Ms Hina Jilani, Vice Chairperson of the HRCP and United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General on the situation of human rights defenders.

On 3 November 2007, the same evening as a state of emergency was called by President General Pervez Musharraf, Asma Jahangir and 55 others were arrested at the head office of the HRCP in Lahore, and taken to the Model Town Police Station. A first Information Report (FIR) #843/2007, dated 4-11-07 was lodged under sections 146/147 and 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO), at Garden Town Police Station. Asma Jahangir was put under a 90-days preventative order [SO (IS-I) 3-24/200] by the Home Department of the Government of Punjab and is currently under house arrest, reportedly to prevent her from making “inflammatory speeches”. The 55 lawyers and human rights defenders named below were sent to Kot Lakhpat Jail Lahore from where they were released at 7.30 pm on 6 November 2007.

A house arrest warrant has also reportedly been issued against Hina Jilani who is currently out of the country. It is believed that she will face arrest upon her return.

The following others were confirmed as arrested and subsequently released: Mr I. A. Rehman, Mr Syed Iqbal Haider, 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.

According to reports, on 5 November 2007, hundreds of lawyers were arrested by the Police in Lahore and Karachi. During the arrests the lawyers allegedly faced brutal force from the Police and dozens of them were reportedly injured. It has further been reported that one lawyer was sent to hospital following a heart attack in police custody.

These lawyers and members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have been targeted because of their peaceful activities in the defence of the human rights of others. I condemn the violent arrest of the lawyers and human rights defenders and call on the Pakistani authorities to:

1. Immediately revoke the house arrest warrants against Asma Jahangir and Hina Jilani;
2. Immediately and unconditionally release and drop all charges against all those lawyers and human rights defenders arrested as it is believed they have been arrested solely on account of their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights in Pakistan;
3. Take measures to ensure that all human rights defenders in Pakistan, carrying out their legitimate work in human rights, are able to operate without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions and harassment.

Front Line respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and
Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally
Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN
General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights
defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of
reprisals. We would particularly draw attention to Article 5, which states that “For the purpose of

promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right,
individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (a) To meet or
assemble peacefully; (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations,
associations or groups,
” and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to
ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with
others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination,
pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the
rights referred to in the present declaration.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Lawlor,Director

 

JOINT LETTER TO UNHCR by AI, FIDH, HRW, OMCT, PR, ISHR
Ambassador Doru Costea
President
Human Rights Council
Geneva
7 November 2007

Dear Ambassador Costea

We are writing to seek your urgent intervention as President of the Human Rights Council, and that of the Bureau of the Council, concerning two of the Council’s Special Procedures, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani.

On 3 November 2007, the President of Pakistan, General Musharraf, declared a state of emergency that has led to the detention of hundreds of human rights defenders, contrary to Pakistan’s international human rights obligations. We have been informed that Ms Jahangir, the Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, was placed under house arrest over the last weekend, subject to a 90 day order. This action effectively prevents her from discharging her responsibilities as a mandate holder of the Council.

We are concerned that Ms Jilani, the Special Representative on the situation of Human Rights Defenders, who is presently outside Pakistan, faces house arrest under a similar order when she returns to Pakistan. This threat is subjecting Ms Jilani to pressure that in itself affects the discharge of her responsibilities. If she returns to be placed under house arrest, she too will be entirely prevented from acting under her mandate.

Action restricting or preventing the Council’s mandate holders from discharging their responsibilities is intolerable under any circumstances. The fact that the action is being taken by a member of the Council makes the situation even more serious. General Assembly resolution 60/251 establishing the Council requires that “members elected to the Council shall uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, (and) shall fully cooperate with the Council.”

We ask that the Bureau of the Council require Pakistan to account to the Council as a matter of urgency for its conduct in relation to the mandate holders in terms of its responsibility under the General Assembly resolution. Pakistan should be required to lift all restrictions on Ms Jahangir and Ms Jilani so that they are able to continue their work under their mandates from the Council without pressure, threat or interference.

We request an opportunity for representatives of our organisations in New York to discuss this situation with you personally and urgently. We ourselves will be seeking meetings with other members of the Bureau here in Geneva.

Yours sincerely

Chris Sidoti for

Amnesty International Irene Khan, Secretary General
Fédération Internationales des Souhayr Belhassen, President
Droits de l’Homme
Human Rights Watch Ken Roth, Executive Director
International Service for Human Rights Chris Sidoti, Director
Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture Eric Sottas, Director
Pax Romana Budi Tjahjono, Coordinator

cc Permanent Representatives, Human Rights Council Member States

 

THE BAR COUNCIL’S LETTER TO HC MADEEHA LODHI

Dr. Maleeha Lodhi,
Pakistan High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
Pakistan High Commission
35-36 Lowndes Square
London
SW1X9JN

Dear High Commissioner,

TREATMENT OF LAWYERS AND THE RULE OF LAW IN PAKISTAN

I write as a leader of 15,000 barristers in England and Wales and as the head of a profession, which holds the respect for the rule of law as central to its purpose.

Our profession enjoys strong links with the legal profession in Pakistan. Indeed, many of the legal and jurisprudential constructs in your country are derived from the historical exchange of ideas between our two countries about constitutionality, the independence of judges and lawyers and the fundamental nature of the rule of law in a free and fair society.

Against this background, barristers in England and Wales have been very concerned to see the recent suspension of the rule of law in Pakistan, attempts to subvert the constitution, and, worst of all, attacks on and extra-judicial detention of lawyers wishing to exercise their right freely to protest.

The sacking and arrest of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is especially reprehensible, and I note with concern his message to lawyers today. I take him at his word when he says that the Supreme Court followed the constitution and the law in making all its decisions about the forthcoming elections, and that the constitution has been “ripped to shreds”.

In the circumstances, I would respectfully ask that our representations about the situation be passed on to your Government and to the President.

Yours Sincerely,

Geoffrey Vos QC
Chairman

 

 

 

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