UN Rights Boss Urges Release Of Pakistan Activists
Wednesday, 18 March 2009

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday welcomed Pakistan's decision to reinstate the chief justice and called for the release of activists rounded up in recent protests.

The Pakistani government announced on Monday that Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, dismissed in 2007 by then-President and army chief General Pervez Musharraf during emergency rule, would be reinstated on Saturday.

The surprise move defused a crisis that had set Pakistan's two biggest parties on a collision course, though friction is likely to persist between President Asif Ali Zardari and his emboldened rival, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pillay, a former United Nations war crimes judge, praised the reinstatement which she said was an important step in the process of restoring the rule of law in Pakistan.

"The current government appears to be showing willingness to respond to concerns voiced by its people regarding their human rights and the integrity of the judicial system, and the High Commissioner applauds this decision," Pillay's spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.

"She is also calling on the government to release all activists arrested during the recent protests," Colville said.

In the past year, Pakistan has signed an international pact guaranteeing civil and political rights and the UN Convention against Torture, and established a ministry for human rights.

While saying Pakistan's signing up to international treaties was "a very important step", Colville stressed the challenge was now to ensure they are properly incorporated in national laws that are upheld.

"We do not believe sustainable peace and political stability within Pakistan -- and in the wider region -- will be achieved without real and sustainable advances on the human rights front," he told the news briefing.

Reinstating Chaudhry had been a major focus of discussions between Pakistani authorities and Pillay's predecessor, Louise Arbour, during Arbour's visit to Pakistan last June.

Source: bdnews24.com

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