HRW asks Pak Govt to release deposed CJ, other judges

November 23rd, 2007 - 4:45 pm ICT by admin  

New York, Nov 23 (ANI): The Human Rights Watch has demanded that the Pakistan Government should immediately release deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, his family members and other judges held under house arrest since November 3.
The New York-based rights watchdog decried President Bushs support of Musharraf, saying “Washington should suspend further dealings with him and the army until he releases the judges, restores them to office, and reverses the state of emergency.”
The watchdog noted that Chaudhry and his family had not been allowed out of their home in Islamabads Judges Colony.
In addition to Chaudhry, five Supreme Court judges remain confined to the Judges Colony. At least another five Supreme Court judges are under house arrest in Lahore.
“Its disgraceful that Musharraf is punishing Chief Justice Chaudhry, who challenged his power-grab, by keeping the judges family under house arrest,” said Brad Adams, Asia Director at the Human Rights Watch.
“Musharraf should end his ugly vendetta against the judges and free Chaudhry, his family and the other judges immediately,” Adams demanded.
The HRW said that the judges who remain in the Judges Colony say that they were still forcibly confined, and that the government was not telling the truth.
Justice Rana Bhagwandas told the HRW that while he and four other judges under house arrest were allowed to move about within the compound, the deposed Chief Justice and his family remained prisoners in their home.
He said that when he and a colleague attempted to visit the chief justice on the morning of November 21, they were prevented from doing so by security personnel.
Human Rights Watch urged the international community, particularly the US in its capacity as Musharrafs chief backer, to demand the immediate release and restoration to office of all detained judges.
The HRW also called for the release of Athar Minallah, an opposition lawyer who has acted as a conduit between the outside world and Chaudhry since his detention.
On the afternoon of November 21, six plainclothes security personnel arrested Minallah.
“Minallah is being persecuted for communicating on behalf of Chaudhry and keeping his plight in the public eye,” said Adams.
“Hes a Supreme Court lawyer, not a criminal. He should be released now like thousands of others arrested for no good reason,” the Dawn reported. (ANI)

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