The ICJ has deplored a suicide attack at a hospital in Quetta, which killed dozens of people today, in the deadliest attack ever on lawyers in Pakistan and among the worst anywhere.
Many of those killed were lawyers, who had been gathered at a hospital in Quetta following the killing of former president of the Balochistan Bar Association, Bilal Anwar Kasi, in a shooting incident earlier in the day.
“This attack targeted mostly lawyers and intellectuals (many of them from the Pashtun community) who had gathered at the hospital to mourn the loss of one of their own,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Asia Director.
“As such, it constituted a serious loss for the legal community and increases existing pressure on the independence of the bar.”
The ICJ calls on the Pakistani Government to conduct an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the attack and to bring those responsible to justice, including anyone who ordered or was otherwise complicit the crime.
The ICJ also urges the Government to take urgent measures to guarantee the security of lawyers, which should include effective measures of protection against attempts on their lives and lives of their family members.
The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers affirm that“[w]here the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”
“If lawyers are under constant fear of violence, they cannot ensure the functioning of an independent and impartial legal profession – an indispensible requirement for rule of law,” Zarifi added.
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia Pacific Regional Director (Bangkok), t: +66 807819002; e: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org
Reema Omer, ICJ International Legal Adviser for Pakistan (London), t: +44 7889565691; e: reema.omer(a)icj.org