March in Solidarity with the Defenders of the Rule of Law in Pakistan

This week’s dismissal by Pakistan’s Supreme Court of a final challenge to President Pervez Musharraf’s re-election hardly came as a surprise. The court, recently packed with judges loyal to General Musharraf, had already dismissed five other challenges to his victory in last month’s presidential election.

In the short time since November 3, General Musharraf has also suspended Pakistan’s constitution, imposed emergency law and beaten and jailed his political opponents and human rights activists – many of them lawyers and magistrates. Needless to say, all of these actions amount to a grievous attack on the rule of law and on the independence of the judiciary.

That judges can freely decide cases against the preferences of a ruling party is something that, here in Canada, we tend to take for granted. It is easy to value judicial independence, simply because we can hold these convictions without fear of the harsh and heavy hand of military government. Sadly, our colleagues in Pakistan don’t have that luxury.

Yet in spite of the obvious dangers they expected to face, thousands of legal professionals displayed great courage in resisting the imposition of martial rule and protesting the attempts to subvert Pakistan’s constitution. The least we can do is to grant them our full support and admiration, and express our continued outrage at the treatment they have had to endure. For it is only through their vigilance that they will succeed in winning back their judicial independence and manage to sustain it in the years ahead.

For these reasons, on Sunday, we will march to the Supreme Court of Canada – the ultimate guardian of judicial independence in our country – to reaffirm our shared commitment to the fundamental concepts of constitutionality, the independence of judges and lawyers, and the rule of law. They are the foundations of a free and fair society. Without them, no state can be held accountable.

Please join us as we join others around the world in calling for an end to emergency rule in Pakistan, and a return to the rule of law by reinstating the judiciary, releasing all arrested lawyers and activists, and guaranteeing respect for human rights.

For more information about the March in Solidarity with the Defenders of the Rule of Law in Pakistan, please visit:

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