Law Society of Upper Canada

Law Society of Upper Canada

November 11, 2008 14:49 ET

The Law Society of Upper Canada Expresses Its Support for Lawyers and Judges in Pakistan Following the First Anniversary of Ouster of Judges in Pakistan

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 11, 2008) - Monday November 3rd, 2008 marked the one year anniversary of the state of emergency imposed by former Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf. Although the emergency has been lifted, and a new government has been formed, many of the conditions of last year's tenuous political situation remain. For instance, many of the judges, including Chief Justice Iftikar Chaudhry, who had been removed by Musharraf, have still not been reinstated by President Asif, Ali Zardari.

Thousands of lawyers, political party workers and human rights activists gathered on the streets of Rawalpindi on Monday November 3, 2008 to mark the anniversary of the state of emergency and to reissue calls for the reinstatement of Justice Chaudhry and the other judges. The lawyers protested to vent their anger at the lingering restrictions to the rule of law in Pakistan, and warned that there would be a storm of protests if their demands are ignored by the government.

Since the State of Emergency and the suspension of constitutional rights were carried out last year by former president Musharraf, the Law Society of Upper Canada has taken an active interest in the tenuous political situation in Pakistan, and its impact on lawyers and judges in that country.

On November 9, 2007, the Law Society of Upper Canada released a public statement condemning the state of emergency, the dismissal of the judges and critiquing the violations of the rule of law carried out by the Musharraf government. Further, on November 29, 2007, the Law Society of Upper Canada along with the Ontario Bar Association organized a gathering of lawyers in support of lawyers and defenders of the rule of law in Pakistan. The Law Society of Upper Canada's interest in Pakistan was expressed once again on January 3, 2008, when it issued a statement condemning the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The assassination raised concerns about further violations of the rule of law.

Although the current government, led by Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari, is gradually moving toward constitutional democracy, the Law Society of Upper Canada condemns the fact that an independent judiciary has not been restored. On the anniversary of the suspension of the Constitution and the dismissal of the superior judiciary, the Law Society of Upper Canada is concerned that the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and about fourteen superior court judges have not been restored to their judicial positions. The Law Society of Upper Canada also notes with dismay that the elected government has tacitly accepted General Pervez Musharraf's unconstitutional actions, and has taken no substantive steps to reverse the unconstitutional actions of November 3rd, 2007.

The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of Pakistan to reinstate all members of the judiciary who were summarily dismissed by former president Musharraf, and to work with both judges and lawyers to ensure the full operation of the rule of law and constitutional entitlements in Pakistan.

In recent days, the Barreau du Quebec and the New Zealand Law Society have written letters to the Pakistan authorities expressing their concern over the current political situation and its impact on judges and lawyers. The Law Society of Upper Canada joins its colleagues in Canada and abroad in striving to safeguard the rule of law in Pakistan and in expressing solidarity with members of the legal profession in Pakistan.

"We echo the message of other legal organizations, and urge President Zardari to reinstate Chief Justice Chaudhry as well as any other members of the judiciary who have yet to be reinstated", said Law Society of Upper Canada Treasurer W. A. Derry Millar. "Such action is vital to solidifying of the rule of law in Pakistan and safeguarding members of the legal profession", he continued.

The Law Society of Upper Canada governs lawyers and paralegals in the public interest by ensuring that the people of Ontario are served by lawyers and paralegals who meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct and by upholding the independence, integrity and honour of the legal professions for the purpose of advance in the case of justice and 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 Josée Bouchard, Equity Advisor, at 416-947-3984.

Contact Information

  • Media contact:
    Roy Thomas
    Director of Communications
    (416) 947-7619