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International community denounces the state of emergency in Pakistan

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The international community is concerned about Pakistan’s imposition of martial law on its citizens and violent crackdown on the legal fraternity, political opposition, and activists around the country.

(Bangkok, 12 November 2007) Six non-governmental organisations based in Geneva have sought the urgent intervention of United Nations Human Rights Council President, Doru Costea, on the safety of two UN envoys from Pakistan, in a joint statement issued on 7 November. Representatives of the organisations have also met Costea to discuss the issue.

Since martial law was imposed by President General Pervez Musharraf on 3 November, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Asma Jahangir, has been under house arrest as part of a 90-day preventive detention. Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, is also expected to face a 90-day detention if she returns home to Pakistan.

Since the state of emergency was imposed in Pakistan, the Constitution and rule of law have been suspended, resulting in crackdowns against judges, lawyers, politicians, human rights defenders and the UN Special Rapporteurs from the country. A Provisional Constitutional Order was promulgated, with the whole country now under the dictate of the President.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has expressed her concern that "A state of emergency should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary"1.

On 5 November, FORUM-ASIA and its members issued a statement denouncing the proclamation of the state of emergency in Pakistan and the arrest of human rights defenders.

Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) echoed that “the prevailing situation in Pakistan is a fit case for intervention by the UN Human Rights Council”. The organisation is urging the Council to hold a special session on the issue.


1 United Nations, High Commissioner Alarmed about Pakistan State of Emergency