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State of emergency in Pakistan must brought to an end

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FORUM-ASIA and its member organisations has denounced strongly the proclamation of a state of emergency in Pakistan and the arrest of human rights defenders that followed in a statement issued on 5 November.

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and its member organisations all over Asia strongly denounce the proclamation of a state of emergency in Pakistan and the arrest of human rights defenders immediately after the state of emergency took effect. FORUM-ASIA and its members also condemn the suspension of a number of fundamental rights under Pakistan's Constitution as a consequence of the state of emergency. The suspension of these rights is illegal and is a blatant disregard of the basic principles of international law.

On 2 November 2007, General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military chief, declared a state of emergency and immediately assumed the position of the country's chief executive. General Musharraf, in the official proclamation of the state of emergency, suspended the National Assembly and effectively put the president, Mr. Rafiq Tarar, under the control of the armed forces. The next day, 3 November 2007, General Musharraf issued Provisional Constitutional Order No. 1 which, among other things, prohibited any court, including the Supreme Court, from questioning the state of emergency.

Many leading human rights defenders have been arrested immediately after the proclamation. Dr. Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance, was arrested on 4 November 2007, and put under house arrest for a period of 90 days. Dr. Jahangir has been accused of undertaking activities "prejudicial to public safety and [the] maintenance of public order." Ms. Hina Jilani, the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, is also expected to be detained after she returns from overseas. It is said that a warrant has already been issued for her arrest.

Certain fundamental rights in Pakistan's Constitution have been suspended pursuant to the state of emergency. These rights include non-derogable rights under international law, such as the right to life (art. 9) and the right to equal protection under the law (art. 25), which clearly demonstrates the illegality of the proclamation of the state of emergency and its contravention of international law.

Moreover, General Musharraf points to the increasing number of terrorist attacks and the rising level of violence in the country as his justification for the imposition of the state of emergency. It is clear, however, that these reasons are meant to conceal the true intentions for the proclamation, which is to stifle an independent judiciary and a strong civil society which have in recent months been openly critical of General Musharraf's actions which threaten the rule of law in the country.

FORUM-ASIA and its member organisations demand that the state of emergency in Pakistan be brought to an end and that everyone in the country be allowed to enjoy the fundamental rights under the constitution without any restrictions. FORUM-ASIA and its member organisations also demand that all human rights defenders currently in detention be released immediately.

In solidarity,



Anselmo Lee
Executive Director


For more information, please contact Em Gil, Programme Manager for Human Rights Defenders at [email protected] or Saji Thomas, Programme Manager for South Asia at [email protected]