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Pakistan minister apologizes for ordering ousted judges to vacate government housing

[JURIST] Pakistani Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz apologized Tuesday for demanding [JURIST report] that that all of the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] judges ousted by President Pervez Musharraf when he declared emergency rule [JURIST report] in early November vacate their government-provided accommodations by Friday and return to their own homes. Nawaz's apology followed comments from Justice Rana Bhagwandas [JURIST news archive], who said the Interior Ministry had "no right" to demand that the deposed judges leave the Judges Enclave in Islamabad and argued that only the Supreme Court can order the deposed judges to leave their official residences. Bhagwandas noted that he has not received any notice from the Supreme Court telling the deposed judges to vacate the Judges Enclave.

Last week, Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Igbal Cheema said that the ousted judges, who had been under virtual house arrest, were "free to move" [JURIST report] and leave their homes. Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] was, however, prevented from leaving his official residence [JURIST report] Wednesday and Bhagwandas said he and his colleagues still faced heavy restrictions on their mobility. On Friday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour urged Pakistan to reinstate all of the judges [JURIST report] dismissed under Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule before parliamentary elections slated for January. From Pakistan, the News has more.

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