Pakistan officials say over 5000 emergency detainees freed

[JURIST] Pakistani officials said Wednesday that upwards of 5000 lawyers, activists and others detained in the aftermath of President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule [JURIST report] have been released. Government Law Minister Afzal Hayder said on state television that the government had freed 5,634 detainees, and that 600 others still in custody were to be released soon. An aide was quoted by news agencies as saying that the total number of detainees was 5,757, of whom 5,134 had been released up to 19:00 local time Wednesday. The remaining 623 included 202 lawyers and 421 students or political workers; the aide said their release was expected in a few days.

The pace of releases has accelerated since an Interior Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that more that 3400 lawyers and political activists had been freed [JURIST report]. Pakistan has been under considerable international pressure to free persons arrested for protesting the declaration of emergency and suspension of the country's constitution, condemned by many as tantamount to martial law. The New York Daily News has more. Xinhua has additional coverage.

 

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