HARTFORD, CT (November 7, 2007) – Lawyers Without Borders (LWOB) called for the release of all lawyers and members of the Judiciary arrested or detained by the Pakistani authorities. Pakistan state television reported that more than 500 lawyers and human rights activists have been arrested. To date international media report that several hundred lawyers across the country, including virtually all leading lawyers associated with the movement for judicial independence have been arrested or detained. Included in the round-up of prominent legal figures was the Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who has been fired and is now under house arrest.
Lawyers without Borders, has identified those arrested and detained members of the legal profession and judiciary in Pakistan as Lawyers At Risk that is, lawyers who are targeted and persecuted for their support of transparency and rule of law. Lawyers, and their ability to publicly and peacefully stand for protecting the integrity of legal process, are crucial to the survival and strength of core values that underlie rule of law throughout the world. When they find themselves targeted for support of those core values, the democratic foundation of the system prosecuting them is itself at risk. This is the harbinger of loss of those key freedoms treasured by lawyers everywhere and their preservation is essential to the future well being of the people of Pakistan. said LWOB founder, Christina Storm.
Storm stated, If, as the President says in his Proclamation, he is truly committed to the rule of law, LWOB calls upon him and the Government to immediately suspend preventive detention orders issued against lawyers, reinstate the dismissed Chief Justice and restore the constitution.
Lawyers Without Borders urges the Government to address this crisis by engaging in a serious and constructive dialogue with its nations lawyers and judiciary. That conversation should address the underlying causes of the crisis and work to restore the fundamental democratic principle pivotal for the rule of law in Pakistan — the independence of the judiciary. Such an approach is in the national interests of Pakistan and need not compromise its unique needs in the national security arena.
About Lawyers Without Borders
Founded in 2000, LWOB is a U.S.-based international non-profit dedicated to preserving the integrity of legal process through training, capacity building, neutral observation, mediation and other dispute resolution mechanisms that support and promote transparency and rule of law. One core value of Lawyers Without Borders is the preservation of the integrity of legal process particularly when threatened by pre-textual arrests, detentions and criminal prosecution against lawyers and judges who find themselves targeted as criminals as a result of their public and peaceful advocacy of rule of law. Our website