President Pervez Musharraf has refused to meet members of the Law Society, Britain, who want immediate reinstatement of deposed chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other sacked judges.
Meanwhile, British lawyers would take out a demonstration in front of Downing Street on Saturday to protest against the sacking of judges. Three legal representative bodies are due to meet the Pakistan High Commissioner next week. The Law Society had requested a meeting with President Musharraf during his visit to London, but he declined.
The UK legal fraternity and human rights groups are calling on Pakistani authorities to release and reinstate judges and lawyers imprisoned in Pakistan in the recent constitutional upheaval. The call by The Law Society of England and Wales, the Association of Muslim Lawyers and the Bar Council and groups, including Justice and Liberty, coincides with the visit of President Musharraf to Britain this weekend.
In a letter to local newspapers, eight legal and human rights organisations say that Pakistan “must re-establish and comply with internationally recognised standards for the rule of law”. Among judges and lawyers still being detained are the former chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan.
Other lawyers and human rights groups have organised events to coincide with President Musharraf’s visit. The Solicitors’ International Human Rights Group (SIHRG), the Society of Asian Lawyers and Amnesty International would be holding a demonstration outside Downing Street, from 12 noon to 2pm on Saturday.
Michael Ellman, chair of SIHRG, is urging lawyers to attend the demonstration in large numbers. He said: “The public in Britain, and especially the legal community, is very concerned about the situation, and particularly for our colleagues in Pakistan who have been persecuted for standing up for the rule of law.”
Andrew Holroyd, president of the Law Society, said: “The rule of law requires the judiciary and the legal profession to be independent and free from political interference. At our meeting next week, the Law Society will again urge the government of Pakistan to return to an internationally recognised standard of the rule of law and to release and reinstate those lawyers and judges who remain in detention. I am sure many solicitors will want to demonstrate our profession’s commitment to the rule of law on Saturday.”