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Amnesty International: Pakistan's New Parliament Must Act Urgently

February 19, 2008
1:27 PM

CONTACT: Amnesty International
AIUSA media office,
202-544-0200 x302

Pakistan's New Parliament Must Act Urgently, Says Amnesty International

WASHINGTON, DC - February 19 - Tim Parritt, deputy director of Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific program, released the following statement today urging Pakistan's new Parliament to take urgent steps to restore an independent judiciary, ensure the release of illegally detained lawyers and judges, and restore the constitution to its pre-emergency state. Comments by T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA advocacy director for Asia and the Pacific, are included as well.

"The Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, who secured at least half the seats in Parliament, have an historic opportunity to ensure a full restoration of respect for human rights in Pakistan.

"The new Parliament must show that it will listen to its people who have given it a powerful mandate for change. By shouldering this responsibility and exercising political will, they can bring an end to the cycle of violence and abuses that have affected Pakistan for decades.

"As a priority, Parliament must commit itself to reversing the changes introduced in the constitution during the emergency period. It must ensure that the constitutional protection of human rights may not be suspended by military or other unilateral executive interventions in future."

"Amnesty International is calling upon the Bush administration to take this opportunity to emphasize the independence of the judiciary. The administration should publically call for the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and other justices who were unconstitutionally dismissed by President Musharraf and placed under house arrest," added T. Kumar.

Amnesty International believes that the new Parliament and future government must:

Release the lawyers and judges who have been illegally detained;
Reinstate the judges of the superior judiciary who were punitively and unconstitutionally dismissed in November 2007;
Uphold the independence of the judiciary at all times;
And, ratify and implement international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Convention Against Torture and Convention against Enforced Disappearances.


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