Thursday, February 7, 2008

Chief Justice of Pakistan and Three Prominent Lawyers Declared Political Prisoners

For Immediate Release: Thursday, 7th February, 2008

Lahore, Pakistan - In a briefing paper released today, the LUMS Rule of Law Project concludes that the detention of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and advocates Aitzaz Ahsan, Justice(ret'd) Tariq Mehmood and Ali Ahmed Kurd violates Pakistan's constitution as well as customary international law. The report finds that the four are political prisoners and recommends their immediate release.
The briefing paper addresses the factual and legal bases for the detention of each detainee. Ahsan, Mehmood and Kurd have received detention orders purporting to justify their detention under theMaintenance of Public Order Ordinance. The briefing paper concludes that there is sufficient evidence of mala fide, or bad faith, to render each order subject to legal challenge in Pakistan's high courts under Article 199 of the Constitution.
The Chief Justice and his family have been detained in their official residence since November 3, 2007, without any legal processor detention order. The report notes that this detention violates several provisions of the constitution and is therefore entirely unlawful.
"These detentions are particularly troubling because the detainees have been targeted for the peaceful expression of their political beliefs," stated American lawyer Devin Theriot-Orr, director of the Rule of Law Project. "The detainees are in a double-bind because theyare suffering under an unlawful detention and have no forum where they can seek to enforce their rights following Musharraf's removal of the majority of appellate judges in November."
The briefing paper recommends that Pakistan release the detainees immediately and that international human rights organizations and concerned individuals put pressure on the Pakistani government to protect the fundamental rights of Pakistani citizens. The brief also recommends the reinstatement of all deposed judges and the restoration of the constitution to it's status on November 2, 2007.
This paper follows on the Project's release of a report in January entitled Defending Dictatorship: U.S. Foreign Policy and Pakistan's Struggle for Democracy. The report, co-authored by members of a delegation from the United States National Lawyers Guild, concludedthat U.S. support for President Musharaff and its failure to demand restoration of the deposed judges will have long-term negative impacts on the judiciary and the rule of law in Pakistan and damage regional safety and security.
Professors Roger Normand and Justice (ret'd) Jawwad Khawaja of LUMSestablished the Rule of Law Project to serve as an academic clearing house for documentation and research regarding constitutionalism and the rule of law in Pakistan.

CONTACT: Devin Theriot-Orr, LUMS Rule of Law Project, +92(334)428-9694,


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