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ATTORNEY URGENT ALERT

 

 

PAKISTAN

 

February 2nd    2008

 

Released from detention of three months on January 31, 2008

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Aitzaz Ahsan,

President of the Supreme Court Bar Association,

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Ali Ahmed Kurd,

former vice president of the Pakistan Bar Council

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and Tariq Mahmood
former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association

rearrested two days after

 

UPDATE 6 March 2008 : Atizaz Ahsan and Ali Ahmed Kurd have all been released from house arrest.

Atizaz Ahsan was released on 2 March and Ali Ahmed Kurd was released on 4 March, both after four months detention.Tariq Mahmood was freed on 26 February after 115 days in preventative detention.

 

Source : AHRC-STM-034-2008

 

Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd, former vice president of the Pakistan Bar Council and Mr. Justice (retired) Tariq Mahmood, former president of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association , three prominent lawyers who spearheaded the movement of lawyers, were again arrested and detained for a further month under the maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (MPO) after they were released from detention of three months on January 31, 2008.

The detained persons are also the counsels of deposed Chief Justice Mr. Iftekhar Choudhry and had been detained since November 3, 2007, along with several judges of higher courts, when General Musharraf imposed a state of emergency and virtually took over the control of higher courts, including the Supreme Court of Pakistan. About 60 judges were suspended and were kept under house arrest. Several judges remain under house arrest including the Chief Justice Mr. Iftekhar Choudhry who, from time to time has been denied basic amenities such as water. His entire family, were detained along with him and his children are not allowed to attend schools. They have even been forced to have their annual examinations from home.

Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, was also served notice banning him from entering the Sindh province when he was boarding a plane to Karachi. Mr. Aitzaz wanted to have a service at the grave of Ms. Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister who was assassinated in a target killing on December 27. Mr. Aitzaz was also manhandled and beaten by the police when he was attending a gathering that assembled outside his residence following his release after his 90 days of detention.

The method by which the government is dealing with the lawyers and judges of the higher judiciary is similar to those methods used on terrorists. Surely the political absurdity of such treatment should dawn on any reasonable leader. The very fact that President Musharraf deals with judges and lawyers as if they are terrorists exposes the abysmal contradictions of present day politics in Pakistan. The re-arrests of the lawyers is a condemnable as further attempts to restore rule of law, supremacy of the judiciary and the restoration of the constitution are now considered as the aspirations of terrorists. Whereas the lawyer’s movement is as strong as it was from the day one, at this moment all the civil society and political groups are involved in lawyer’s movement. The lawyer’s movement has been sustained since November 3, and they are continuously boycotting the judges of higher courts who have taken oath under army tailored Provision of Constitution Order (PCO). Such a lengthy boycott itself is an act of historic proportion demonstrating the determination of the democratic minded people of Pakistan to safeguard the basic institutions of law and justice at a great sacrifice to themselves.

It is also deplorable that Mr. Aitzaz was prohibited from entering Sindh province. The grounds given by the Sindh government was that his presence would create a law and order situation implying that the people who want rule of law and democracy in Pakistan would rally round him. This itself is a recognition that the movement for the restoration of the rule of law is alive in the Sindh province. The Supreme Court Bar Association of which Mr. Aitzaz is the president is a nationwide organization and banning his entry members of the Bar are prevented from meeting their elected leader. This is a clear violation to the right to assembly guaranteed under article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The military regime under President Musharraf has been engaged in one of the most brutal repressions against the movement of lawyers and judges who merely want the restoration of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. How can any state which so blatantly engages in attempts to suppress the most law abiding sections of society hold any form of legitimacy? The United States which has supported this regime which is so belligerent in its attempt to wipe out the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary needs to reassure the people of Pakistan that they do not support such attempts of this regime. All forces in the world that support rule of law and democracy need to condemn these belligerent acts against the very elements of society that treasure law, justice and democracy.

This regime should be forced to restore the judiciary to its pre November 3, position, all arrested lawyers and judges must be released forthwith and the independence of judiciary must be restored.

 

ACTIONS REQUESTED :

 

Please write to the authorities of Pakistan urging them to :

  • Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, Mr. Tariq Mahmood and Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd;
  • release immediately and unconditionally Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, Mr. Tariq Mahmood, Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd as well as all other defenders who are currently detained, since their detention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning their human rights activities;
  • Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Pakistan;
  • 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”.
  • Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Pakistan.

 

ADDRESSES :

General Pervez Musharraf
President
President's Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
Email: (please see-> http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx)

Mr. Afzal Haider
Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
S Block Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 920 2628
Email: minister@molaw.gov.pk

Lieutenant General Hamid Nawaz
Federal Minister of Interior
Room#404, 4th Floor, R Block,
Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: + 92 51 9212026
Fax: + 92 51 9202624
Email: minister@interior.gov.pk

Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar
Karachi
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220
Email: info@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk 

Dr. Ishrat UL Ibad
Governor of Sindh province
Karachi
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 21 920 1201
Fax: +92 21 920 5043

Dr. Arbab Abdul Rahim
Chief Minister of Sindh
Chief Minister House
Karachi
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 2000

Chief Secretary
Government of Sindh
Chief Secretariat,
Karachi, Sindh province,
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 21 921950
Fax: +92 21 9211946
Email: cs.sindh@sindh.gov.pk 

Secretary
(Criminal Prosecution) SGA &CD Department
Government of Sindh
Sindh Secretariat,
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 21 9213327-6
Fax: +92 21 9213873
Email: secy.cpsd@sindh.gov.pk

Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court Building
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9213770
Fax: +92 51 9213452
E-mail: registrar@supremecourt.gov.pk

Prof. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9230
Fax: +41 22 917 9016 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR TORTURE)

Mr. Leandro Despouy
Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers
Room: 3-060
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9160
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR INDEPENDENCE JUDGES & LAWYERS)

Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defenders
Room 1-040
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 93 88
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS)

 

 

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.

 

 

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