Constitutional Law

BBC: No Judges in Many Pakistan Courts

  • Print.

As hundreds of lawyers in cities throughout the U.S. joined in peaceful protests today to support fellow attorneys in Pakistan, the legal system there continues in a chaotic state, particularly at the appellate level.

“More than half the courtrooms have no judges. Most lawyers who are still free are refusing to appear before judges who have taken the new oaths under the provisional constitutional order,” reports the British Broadcasting Corp., apparently referring to appeals courts in which some 60 percent of the judges have been fired.

The jurists lost their jobs because of a Nov. 3 edict by Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Declaring a state of emergency, he suspended the constitution and fired numerous appellate judges, including Chief Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry of the country’s supreme court. Since then, as many as 5,000 lawyers there—or perhaps even as many as 20,000—have been arrested and jailed.

Lawyers in black business suits have reportedly been at the forefront of protests seeking the restoration of the judicial system and the constitutional rule of law, eliciting beatings and tear gas attacks in response. Although students have also tried to join in the protests, ordinary working people can’t afford to do so, notes Newsday.

Today, answering a highly unusual call by ABA President William H. Neukom, hundreds of lawyers reportedly rallied in Washington, D.C., and other cities throughout the U.S. in support of their Pakistan colleagues. Many also wore black suits, as a symbol of their support, according to an on-the-scene report from Washington.

Updated 11/14/2007 at 6:25 p.m. CST

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.