Pakistan: Rights groups ask govt to investigate alleged assault of lawyers on LHC premises

Pakistan: Rights groups ask govt to investigate alleged assault of lawyers on LHC premises

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The Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists on Thursday called on Pakistani authorities to investigate the alleged assault of lawyers in the Lahore High Court premises earlier this week, an HRW press release said.

The HRW asked the government to “ensure a prompt, impartial, and effective investigation into a barrage of assaults and threats against lawyers” at the LHC on Tuesday after lawyers supporting Maqsood Buttar attacked Barrister Usama Malik, a junior associate of senior counsel Asma Jahangir who had been arguing a habeas corpus petition filed by Bilquis Zareena.

Buttar’s supporters roughed Malik up and ripped his shirt. Some of them also manhandled the complainant, Zareena, who sought the recovery of her daughter Ayesha and two-year-old grandson Alyan Ali. The two have allegedly been missing for the past six months.

The rights organisations reminded Pakistani authorities of their duty towards upholding international standards in court proceedings, saying, “Under international standards, including the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Pakistan has an obligation to ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment, or improper interference.”

“The government needs to defend the rule of law and prosecute those responsible for any criminal conduct,” said the prominent human rights defenders in the news release which was posted on the HRW’s website.

HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said, “Lawyers must be able to go to court without fearing violent assaults and abuse.”

“That such assaults take place with increasing frequency in Pakistan and without accountability represents a serious failure of the Pakistani authorities to ensure rule of law.”

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