The Law Society of Upper Canada Expresses Grave Concerns about the Dismantling of the Rule of Law in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan



    TORONTO, Nov. 12 /CNW/ - The actions of President General Pervez
Musharraf are blatant violations of fundamental human rights under
international law and unacceptable attacks on the independence of the
judiciary, the bar, and the rule of law.
    The Law Society deplores and condemns the imposition of the Proclamation
of Emergency, the suspension of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of
Pakistan, the dismissal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and over
40 other judges, the abrogation of the rule of law and of the independence of
the Supreme Court Bar Association, and the reported detention of at least
3,500 lawyers and civil rights activists.
    Lawyers detained include Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, President of the Supreme Court
Bar Association, officers of other Bar Associations, Asma Jahangir,
International Commission of Jurists Commissioner and United Nations Special
Rapporteur on religious intolerance and at least 70 members of the Human
Rights Commission of Pakistan.
    The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and international
human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Basic
Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, state that judicial
independence and human rights are necessary to advancing the rule of law.

    
    The Law Society calls on the Pakistan authorities to,
    -   immediately reinstate the Constitution of the Republic of Pakistan
        and put an end to the Proclamation of Emergency;
    -   immediately release from detention and house arrest those detained
        after the declaration of the state of emergency;
    -   respect the independence of the legal profession and the right of
        lawyers to exercise freedom of opinion and conscience and to exercise
        their legitimate professional duties as lawyers;
    -   restore the independence of the judiciary by reinstating Chief
        Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as Chief Justice of the Supreme
        Court and other judicial officers displaced by recent events;
    -   provide assurances that the elections to take place in January will
        occur as planned, resulting in a full and democratic transition to
        civilian rule.
    

    "The Law Society stands with its colleagues in Pakistan who are engaged
in upholding the Rule of Law at this difficult time. We recognize that lawyers
have a unique role to play in sustaining and developing democratic principles
and commend our colleagues for their vigilance and their courage. The erosion
of respect for the rule of law elsewhere threatens its tenuous position even
in the most democratic societies," said Gavin MacKenzie, Treasurer of the Law
Society of Upper Canada.

    The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for the more than
39,000 lawyers in the Province of Ontario, Canada. The mandate of the Law
Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding
the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose
of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.
    The Law Society urges the legal community to intervene in support of
members of the legal profession in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in their
efforts to maintain the independence of the judiciary and to promote the rule
of law.




For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Roy Thomas, Director of
Communications, at (416) 947-7619; for further information about the Law
Society's Access to Justice and Equity initiatives, please visit our website
at www.lsuc.on.ca or call Josée Bouchard, Equity Advisor, at (416) 947-3984


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