Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

November 12, 2007 13:04 ET

The Law Society of Upper Canada Expresses Grave Concerns About the Dismantling of the Rule of Law in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 12, 2007) - The actions of President General Pervez Musharraf are blatant violations of fundamental human rights under international law and unacceptable attacks on the independence of the judiciary, the bar, and the rule of law.

The Law Society deplores and condemns the imposition of the Proclamation of Emergency, the suspension of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the dismissal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and over 40 other judges, the abrogation of the rule of law and of the independence of the Supreme Court Bar Association, and the reported detention of at least 3,500 lawyers and civil rights activists.

Lawyers detained include Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, officers of other Bar Associations, Asma Jahangir, International Commission of Jurists Commissioner and United Nations Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance and at least 70 members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, state that judicial independence and human rights are necessary to advancing the rule of law.

The Law Society calls on the Pakistan authorities to,

- immediately reinstate the Constitution of the Republic of Pakistan and put an end to the Proclamation of Emergency;

- immediately release from detention and house arrest those detained after the declaration of the state of emergency;

- respect the independence of the legal profession and the right of lawyers to exercise freedom of opinion and conscience and to exercise their legitimate professional duties as lawyers;

- restore the independence of the judiciary by reinstating Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and other judicial officers displaced by recent events;

- provide assurances that the elections to take place in January will occur as planned, resulting in a full and democratic transition to civilian rule.

"The Law Society stands with its colleagues in Pakistan who are engaged in upholding the Rule of Law at this difficult time. We recognize that lawyers have a unique role to play in sustaining and developing democratic principles and commend our colleagues for their vigilance and their courage. The erosion of respect for the rule of law elsewhere threatens its tenuous position even in the most democratic societies," said Gavin MacKenzie, Treasurer of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

The Law Society of Upper Canada is the governing body for the more than 39,000 lawyers in the Province of Ontario, Canada. The mandate of the Law Society is to govern the legal profession in the public interest by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal profession for the purpose of advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law.

The Law Society urges the legal community to intervene in support of members of the legal profession in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in their efforts to maintain the independence of the judiciary and to promote the rule of law.

For further information about the Law Society's Access to Justice and Equity initiatives, please visit our website at www.lsuc.on.ca or call Josee Bouchard, Equity Advisor, at (416) 947-3984.

Contact Information

  • Media contact:
    Law Society of Upper Canada
    Roy Thomas
    Director of Communications
    (416) 947-7619
    www.lsuc.on.ca