PAKISTAN: Shameful acts by the lawyers to ruin the rule of law

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Lawyers have stormed the Lahore Session Courts to show their solidarity with a lawyer and former president of Lahore high court bar association who was arrested in the murder case of a 12-year-old Christian domestic helper. The girl was allegedly tortured. The lawyers, more than three hundred under the leadership of president of the Lahore Bar Association, went to the Session Court and took possession of the accused lawyer, Mr. Naeem. They then scuffled with media personnel and policemen who threatened that they would be punished if they did not leave the court. It then became difficult for the judge to proceed with the legal requirements of the case.

In the presence of so many lawyers, the judge announced the one-day police remand of the accused but when different television channels criticized the session judge by taking sides with the lawyers the judge later on in the afternoon announced that the accused person had been handed over to the police for three days so that they could conduct their investigation. The lawyers then chanted slogans in favour of accused lawyer and against the media to project the case in the media.

According to the Christian right groups and the electronic media, Miss Shazia Bashir Masih, a resident of Islamia Park, Punch Road, Aria Nagar, Samanabad, Lahore, was allegedly tortured and killed by her employer, Mohammad Naeem, the lawyer and his family members.

Shazia was working as a domestic worker in bungalow number AA-444 Defense, Lahore with Muhammad Naeem, a lawyer of the Lahore High Court. He never paid a single penny to Shazia for the last eight months. It was alleged by the victim’s parents that she also had the duty to massage the lady of the house and the perpetrator Muhammad Neaeem. After his arrest Mohammad Naeem sent a message from the police lock up to Mr. Khalid Shahzad, General Secretary of the Christian alliance, and Shazia’s father Bashir Masih about his position as a lawyer in the society and insisted that courts and lawyer community will never go against someone from their own fraternity.

This is a very shameful act by the lawyers under the leadership of the President of the Lahore High Court Bar Association to pressurize the judiciary and threaten the police and media to cease their normal and legal duties. In any case the incident cannot be condoned as the accused person has every legal and constitutional right to defend himself before a court of law. This incident by the lawyer is very shocking for the people of Pakistan who relied on the lawyer’s movement to lead the people towards the rule of law. But the lawyers, instead of supporting the poor family, whose child was allegedly murdered by torture, came out in favour of alleged perpetrator.

The Asian Human Rights Commission denounces the acts of violence by the lawyers and terms it a sheer demonstration of vandalism. There are raised eyebrows over the uncivilized behaviour of the lawyers who enjoyed the great support and confidence from the people throughout the world who believed in the rule of law. By taking the law into their own hands and resorting violent methods, the lawyers are leading the masses towards unlawful and unconstitutional methods to resolve their problems.

The AHRC, being the proponent of the lawyer’s movement for the restoration of judiciary and rule of law, is saddened by the violent acts of lawyers, particularly by taking over the Session Courts on the day when an accused lawyer of killing a child by torture was produced. The actions of the lawyers show that they are no better than the criminals.

There is a strong need from the leadership of the bar associations, from district level to the Supreme Court to stop this vandalism by the lawyers and ruining the rule of law. If the rule of law is not properly understood by the lawyers themselves then what will remain in the country and who will get the justice? The leadership of the lawyers cannot ignore such violent incidents by saying that some unscrupulous elements are involved. The bars have the responsibilities to teach the very concept of rule of law to their membership.

January 27, 2010

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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