May 12th, 2007
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers ( IADL) in consultative status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations, UNESCO and UNICEF issues this statement in light of recent attacks on lawyers who have been supporting the reinstatement of Chief Justice Mr. Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry.
IADL in particular condemns the attacks on Supreme Court Bar Association President, Mr. Munir A. Malik, and Mr. Akhtar Hussain, the Organizing Secretary of the Democratic Lawyers Association.
On March 20th 2007, IADL issued a statement indicating our grave concern over the suspension of the Chief Justice by President Musharraf and supporting the lawyers who had been organizing in protest. At that time we demanded the withdrawal of the suspension order and the release of those lawyers who had been arrested in protest of the order. The March 20th statement was based on information that the suspension of the Chief Justice was based on false charges motivated by a desire to remove him from the position of the Chief Justice of Pakistan due to his judicial independence.
IADL is firmly committed to an independent judiciary in all countries and applauds the entire Pakistani Bar for its courageous actions oppose a politically motivated removal of an independent jurist. IADL notes particularly that an independent judiciary is critical to the functioning of democratic institutions and necessary to secure the rights of the people. Security of tenure for Judges is an essential feature of an independent judiciary.
IADL has been informed that in the early hours of Thursday, May 10, 2007, there was a direct assault on two of the leading figures spearheading the struggle of the lawyers supporting the Chief Justice. In the first incident the residence of Supreme Court Bar Association President, Mr. Munir A. Malik was fired upon by unknown persons. In the second incident, there was an attempt to abduct Mr. Akhtar Hussain, the Organizing Secretary of the Democratic Lawyers Association, from his residence. Mr. Hussain is a Deputy Secretary General of IADL. IADL considers these attacks an outrage and blatant attempts to terrorize the lawyers who are supporting an independent judiciary.
In light of the foregoing IADL demands:
1. That President Musharraf immediately reinstate the Chief Justice so as to preserve the independence of the judiciary.
2. That President Musharraf condemn the attacks on Mr. Malik and Mr. Hussain.
3. That President Musharraf and the appropriate local authorities commence an investigation into those who are responsible for the armed attack at the home of Mr. Malik, and the attempted abduction of Mr. Hussain, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
IADL further applauds the steadfastness of the Pakistani Bar on this issue and urges all members of the bar to continue their protests so as to demonstrate that acts of repression and terror will not stop the demand for an independent judiciary.
Issued on the 12 of May, 2007
Jitendra Sharma, President
Ms.Jeanne Mirer, Secretary General