The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers expressed its shock at the killing of three judges in Pakistan after a jail siege on Friday 25 July.
Judges Cheema, Anwar and Ranjha had been taken hostage by prisoners and died as a result of gunfire when police officers stormed the jail to end the siege.
Judges Asif Mumtaz Cheema, Saghir Anwar and Khalid Munir Ranjha were part of a group of judicial officials who were conducting a routine inspection at the Sialkot jail in Punjab province on 25 July. The group was taken hostage by a number of inmates who demanded safe passage out of the jail. Efforts to negotiate failed, and when the inmates threatened to kill the judges the Pakistani authorities decided to take the building by force using special commandos. As a result of the fire exchange between the hostage-takers and the special forces, three judges and five prisoners were killed.
“We lament the deaths of the three Pakistani judges”, said Linda Besharaty-Movaed, Legal Advisor of the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. “Even though it is not known who fired at them, the Government should have taken every precaution to guarantee the security of the judges, more so when possession of arms is rather common in Pakistani prisons and the risk of serious injury or death is high.”
Attacks against judges severely undermine the rule of law and the administration of justice. The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers implores the Government of Pakistan to fully investigate the circumstances of the judges’ deaths and to bring those responsible to justice. The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers further urges the Government to guarantee the security and protection of all judges, particularly those who are at risk when performing their professional duties.
Pakistan-killing three judges-press release-2003 (text, PDF)