Pakistan judicial reform needed: report

[JURIST] Pakistan's rule of law is stymied by long traditions of lawlessness and dictatorship, says the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute [official site] in a new report [text, PDF press release]. The report, published Thursday, stems from observations and more than 100 interviews conducted with all Pakistani individuals who have some stake in the court system there, from judges to defendants, over the course of two weeks in March and April. Though the report praises Pakistani lawyers for their part in restoring Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [JURIST news archive] to his post, it raises many concerns about the lack of judicial oversight for judges, protection of them and their families, and the Islamisation of Pakistani law, particularly by location. The report further elucidates thirty-five recommendations for implementation, saying:


The justice system must no longer be regarded as subordinate to political expediency. Expectations are high that the judiciary in particular, and the legal profession in general, will take a leading role in restoring the rule of law and the protection of human rights in Pakistan. There are no simple means of solving the many challenges facing the justice system. Purely cosmetic changes will no longer be sufficient to ensure that fundamental rights are not only implemented but truly respected in Pakistan.

Chaudhry called for an end to corruption in the Pakistani judiciary on the first day he was reinstated [JURIST reports] in March. Chaudhry resumed his position amid great celebration [BBC video] by Pakistani lawyers, 16 months after being removed from his post [JURIST report] by then-president Pervez Musharraf [JURIST news archive]. Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Muslim League had actively campaigned for Chaudhry's reinstatement, and Chaudhry maintained that he was still chief justice [JURIST reports] under the Pakistani constitution, even after his ouster.


 

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