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Detained Pakistani lawyers tortured: rights official

[JURIST] Pakistani lawyers detained by the government under the declaration of emergency rule [PDF text] issued earlier this month by President Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile] are being tortured, according to Asma Jahangir [official profile, PDF] head of the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan [advocacy website] and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. In a statement issued Thursday, Jahangir, who is herself under house arrest [order], said:

I am fortunate to be under house arrest, while my colleagues are suffering. The Musharraf government has declared martial law to settle scores with lawyers and judges. While the terrorists remain on the loose and continue to occupy more space in Pakistan, senior lawyers are being tortured....

In particular, the cases of Muneer A Malik, Aitzaz Ahsan, Tariq Mahmood and Ali Ahmed Kurd are serious. Mr Malik, the former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and leader of the lawyers' movement, has been shifted to the notorious Attack Fort. He is being tortured and is under the custody of military intelligence. Tariq Mahmood, another former president of the Association, was imprisoned in Adiala jail. No one was allowed to see him and it is reported that he has been shifted to an unknown place. Mr Kurd, former vice chair of the Pakistan Bar Council, is in the custody of military intelligence and is being kept at an undisclosed place. Mr Ahsan is being kept in Adiayala jail in solitary confinement.
Jahangir urged bar associations around the world to express their support for Pakistani lawyers by calling on their respective governments to pressure Pakistan to release the detainees.

In the hours and days following Musharraf's proclamation of emergency rule [JURIST report] on November 3rd, police detained [JURIST report] hundreds of lawyers, rights activists and opposition figures protesting the emergency orders. Last Monday, police fired tear gas [JURIST report] at lawyers in the city of Lahore, arresting hundreds.

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