Asma Jahangir and others detained in the state of emergency

Re: Asma Jahangir and others detained in the state of emergency

To: President Pervez Musharraf, Mr. Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and Mr. Zahid Hamid

From: Cara E.I. Gibbons, LRWC

Date: 2007-11-06

LRWC is gravely concerned about the arrests of Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani, Iqbal Haider, I. A. Rehman, Brigadier (rtd) Rao Abid Hameed, Shahtaj Qizilbash, Imran Qureshi and at least 48 other human rights defenders detained in the state of emergency. These arrests, many of which took place at a meeting of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, constitute arbitrary arrest and detention and are therefore contrary to law. LRWC is concerned for the health of a number of those detained, including Brigadier (retired) Rao Abid Hameed, Shahtaj Qizilbash, and Imran Qureshi.

Pakistan is obligated to respect the prohibition against torture contained in, inter alia, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The prohibition against torture is jus cogens, meaning it is a peremptory from which no derogation is permitted. In addition, article 9 of the UDHR prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. We respectfully remind you that state practice and opinio juris have resulted in these rights being solidified as customary international law. Regardless of the current status of the Pakistani constitution, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan remains obligated to observe these basic tenants of international law.

LRWC requests the Pakistani government to act in accordance with its human rights obligations and to ensure the implementation of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 8, 1998, in particular article 1 which provides that “every person has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfillment of human rights and fundamental liberties at the national and international levels.”

LRWC urges the authorities to ensure that no one is subjected to torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. We also ask the authorities to provide immediate medical treatment to detainees who are suffering from ill health. LRWC calls for the immediate release of all lawyers and others arrested under preventative detention measures and not charged with a recognized criminal offence, or detained for the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association, or assembly. In addition, LRWC urges the authorities to cease all arbitrary arrest and detention under the state of emergency, and to protect and uphold constitutional human rights guarantees, including safeguards on life and liberty.