Pakistan: ICJ begins mission to assess developments related to reference against Chief Justice Chaudry
The ICJ high-level mission will last seven days and examine events and developments in the Chaudry case.
On 9 March 2007, the President of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf directed the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) of Pakistan to consider allegations of misconduct against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudry.
The ICJ will be represented in Pakistan by senior Malaysian jurist Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, who is Honorary Member and former Vice President of the ICJ and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. During the mission from 19 to 26 April, Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy will visit Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad to meet with Ministers and other senior Government officials, and senior members of the judiciary and the legal profession.
Acting Under article 209 of the Constitution, President Musharraf called upon the SJC on 9 March 2007 to inquire into the matters referred and to report to him whether the Chief Justice has been guilty of misconduct and further, whether he, the Chief Justice, should be removed.
The ICJ mission will seek to assess the impact of these developments, including an assessment of due process in relation to the SJC proceedings, and the circumstances surrounding the earlier declaration of the Chief Justice as “non-functional”, on the independence of the judiciary in Pakistan, which is fundamental to the rule of law.
The ICJ will also enquire into allegations of the use of force by security officials during recent demonstrations by lawyers and members of the judiciary and reported restrictions on the media and actions taken by the Government in response to these allegations.
The ICJ will meet with lawyers who have been detained in recent weeks and is concerned about the reported use of preventive detention of lawyers prior to public protests.
Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy served as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers from 1994 to 2003 (appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights). Param Cumaraswamy has served as President of the Law Association for Asia and the Pacific and was a founding member of the Malaysian Bar Council’s Human Rights Committee and Legal Aid Committee and was the Chairman of the Malaysian Bar Council 1986-88.
Param Cumaraswamy is currently an Honorary Member of the ICJ. He served as an elected Commissioner of the ICJ from 1991 to 2005, as Vice President of the ICJ from 2004 to 2006 and as member of the ICJ Executive Committee from 1998 to 2002. He received the 2002 Justice In The World award from the International Association of Judges. In 2003 he was conferred honorary membership of the Law Society of England & Wales and made an Honorary Bencher of Middle Temple in London. He is also a recipient of the 2005 Justice Prize from the Peter Gruber Foundation in New York.NewsWeb stories