Press Release – Statement of ABA President William H. Neukom Praising the Release of Pakistani Jurists

Chicago, March 26, 2008 – This week’s release  of all detained justices and judges in Pakistan is a tremendous victory for the rule of law, and a hopeful first step in reversing the damaging effects of President Musharraf’s November 3, 2007, state of emergency. The next step is to reinstate those justices and judges to their constitutional positions in their respective courts.

A judiciary that can apply the law without intimidation and outside interference is a central pillar of any just society. The American Bar Association continues to vigorously support three broad points stated in a petition signed by 13,000 lawyers:

  • Pakistan’s Constitution must be restored in the form that existed before the November 3 emergency was declared.
  • All judges and Supreme Court justices who were dismissed for refusing to sign a loyalty oath to Musharraf must be reinstated.
  • And all Pakistani citizens who were wrongly arrested and jailed for merely protesting the emergency declaration must be released.

The ABA will continue to press for full restoration of the rule of law in Pakistan, and stands ready to assist Pakistan in nurturing a fully professional and independent bar and judiciary. 

The people of Pakistan deserve no less.

The rule of law is safe only when a nation’s citizens defend it. The Pakistanis have done so bravely and tenaciously, inspiring lawyers and citizens in all corners of the world.