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UN rights chief urges Pakistan to reinstate ousted judges before holding elections

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official website] Thursday urged Pakistan to reinstate all of the judges dismissed under President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 declaration of emergency rule before parliamentary elections slated for January. In Dublin to attend a human rights conference, Arbour told reporters that it is not enough to hold free and fair elections lest the judicial branch become totally subservient to the executive branch in what the former Canadian Supreme Court justice called a "very twisted form of democracy". Musharraf effectively dismissed all Pakistan's Supreme Court judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], at the same time as he suspended the country's constitution and issued a Provisional Constitution Order. Musharraf has since replaced the original top court bench with mostly lower court judges seen by many to be more loyal to the president.

Earlier this month, Arbour expressed alarm [JURIST report] at the suspension of fundamental rights during Musharraf's emergency, saying that a state of emergency "should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary." AP has more.

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