Iftikar Mohammed Chaudhry

Re: Iftikar Mohammed Chaudhry

To: General Pervez Musharraf, President

From: Gail Davidson, executive director of LRWC

Date: 2007-03-20

LRWC has received information that Justice Chaudhry was suspended from his office as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, on March 9, 2007 for alleged misconduct. LRWC notes that no specific allegations have been made public and that the hearing before the Supreme Judicial Council is closed to the public. In light of recent decisions of Justice Chaudhry and the current political climate in Pakistan, LWRC is concerned that Justice Chaudhry’s suspension was politically motivated, constituting an attack on the independence of the judiciary that has grave implications for the rule of law in Pakistan. We enclose LRWC’s March 19 2007 statement on this matter.

The independence of the judiciary is a universally observed norm of international law, enshrined in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is the foundation of all legitimate legal systems. The guarantee of judicial independence is enshrined by Article 2A and the Objective Resolution, in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Article 175 of the Constitution further requires a formal separation between the political executive and the judiciary.

LRWC is further alarmed by reports that 80 (eighty) lawyers, protesting the apparently extra-legal interference with the tenure of the Chief Justice, were arrested and some or all have been charged with a variety of offences including treason. These lawyers are, we suggest, not only entitled to protest interference with the independence of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, but are, as officers of the court, required to do so.

LWRC calls upon the Pakistani government to take necessary actions to safeguard the professional independence of all judges, including Justice Chaudhry. Justice Chaudhry should be immediately reinstated to his position as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and any allegations against him should be impartially heard and decided by a fair and public tribunal in accordance with the principles of justice. LRWC further calls for the removal of any limitations on Justice Chaudhry’s mobility and stresses the importance of allowing Justice Chaudhry to take advantage of his right to legal representation by allowing him to meet with his lawyers.

LRWC also calls on your government to forbear from further retributive actions against all lawyers protesting the actions taken against Chief Justice Chaudhry. We request that all such lawyers be released and all charges dropped. In the event that any of the lawyers are detained, or released on conditions, or remain subject to charges, please advise us of the names, charges and the legal justification for detention and/or charges.

We request a reply to our correspondence with details of the steps taken to re-instate Mr. Justice Chaudhry and to release the lawyers.