PAKISTAN: Prominent lawyer tortured, poisoned in detention; two others held incommunicado
November 26, 2007
[NOTICE: The AHRC has developed an automatic letter-sending system using the "button" below. We encourage you to send your appeal letters via email, fax or post to those people. Fax numbers and postal addresses of the authorities are attached below with this appeal. Thank you.]
URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION URGENT ACTION
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
26 November 2007
UA-331-2007: PAKISTAN: Prominent lawyer tortured, poisoned in detention; two others held incommunicado
PAKISTAN: State of emergency; torture; arbitrary arrest and detention; absence of rule of law
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has been informed that the physical condition and health of a prominent lawyer, Mr. Munir A. Malik, former president of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Bar Association, whom we reported to have traces of blood in his urine due to severe torture while in custody, continues to deteriorate. Mr. Malik told his physicians after regaining consciousness that his health worsened after he was forced to drink the juices and food rations given to him whom he believed could have contained poison. No action has been taken against those involved in arresting, detaining and torturing him. Though the government claimed they had already released him, the security forces deployed at the hospital admitted that this is not the case.
In our previous appeal UP-150-2007, the AHRC has mentioned that Mr. Munir A. Malik was taken to a government hospital after he fainted. Traces of blood were found in his urine after the severe beatings he suffered while in detention at the Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi and subsequently in Attock Jail, a remote jail in a mountainous area in the north western frontier province.
Mr. Malik had been kept incommunicado detention for a week while being held at the Attock Jail. His cell measures just four feet wide and five feet high which makes it extremely difficult if not impossible for him to move comfortably. He was taken out shortly only once in a day to breathe some fresh air. At day time, his detention cell was completely dark but at night a powerful bulb was put on, therefore making it extremely difficult for him to sleep. He was not allowed any visitors to ascertain his condition inside the jail following his arrest, particularly his family.
In one instance, the superintendent of the Attock jail, told Mr. Malik soon after he was taken in detention that he was the first victim of Chief Justice Choudhry. This superintendent told him that he would take revenge against all those persons who had worked to restore the ousted Chief Justice.
Only after Mr. Maliks urine started to emit traces of blood was he taken to a government hospital for treatment. But despite having not recovered fully, after few days of being at the hospital he was again taken back to the Attock Jail.
On November 22, Mr. Malik was taken to the Islamabad, PIMS hospital (Pakistan Institute of Science Management) but his condition has since worsened. This time, he was admitted to the hospitals Intensive Care Institute (ICU) after the physicians examining him discovered the severity of his condition. However, despite these findings by his physicians, the policemen who took him to the hospital at first refused to admit him for immediate treatment.
But after the alarming news of his condition spread out, the authorities withdrew the policemen deployed outside the ICU where Mr. Malik was finally admitted. When Mr. Malik regained consciousness he told his physicians that while he was in jail the jail authorities gave him liquid to drink, or juice, as he was told, forcing him to take them. It happened after he was taken back to jail from the hospital. Mr. Malik told the doctors that the drink and food ration that the jail officers have given him might have contain poison. While in detention, the jail guard also deprived him of any regular medication. Since then his condition continues to deteriorate.
The medical examination performed on Mr. Malik disclosed that both his kidneys and liver are no longer functioning properly and that his urine continues to emit traces of blood. He has now received dialysis twice in order for him to gain immediate relief from his condition. On November 25, the physicians examining Mr. Malik informed him that the next two days would be critical.
The government has already claimed it already released Mr. Malik from detention following pressure by the legal community. However, security forces attached to the governments anti-terrorist squad have not been pulled out from the hospital where he is admitted. In Pakistan, this squad is reported to have more power than the police.
Mr. Malik is reported to be one of the lawyers known to have suffered brutal and inhumane treatment following their arrest on November 3 after the emergency rule was imposed.
Another prominent lawyer, Mr. Ali Hamed Kurd and a retired justice, Mr. Tariq Mehmood, who were at the forefront of lawyers movement, have also not been released. Mr. Kurd is the former President of the Pakistan Bar Council while Mr. Mehmood was also a former president of Supreme Court Bar Association. They are reported to have been kept incommunicado detention in different jails but their present condition could not be ascertained. Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd was reported to have been tortured by the security forces who took him into custody, the Inter Service Intelligence Agency, known as the I.S.I.
Furthermore, as mentioned in our previous appeal UP-153-2007, several days after Mr. Syed Hassan Tariq, a prominent human rights lawyer was arrested on November 8 and also tortured by the security forces. He was also taken to a hospital due to serious injuries. Mr. Tariq has suffered internal bleeding to his lungs and two ribs were fractured. He also had marks of beatings on his back. His physician said that his condition was severe.
Mr. Munir A. Malik is the key person who started the movement for the restoration of Mr. Ifekhar Choudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan, who was suspended on March 9 by General Pervez Musharraf. The government of President Musharraf has since been dismissive of him. In October 2006, when Mr. Malik was elected as president of the Supreme Court of Bar Association (SCBA), the government refused to acknowledge his leadership.
Mr. Maliks election to the bar association was also challenged by Mr. Malik Qayyum, the present Attorney General. In refusing to acknowledge his leadership, the government appointed Mr. Qayyum as the SCBAs parallel president which led to the division in the bar association. However, Mr. Malik challenged Mr. Qayyums legitimacy. He was later acknowledged by the bench of Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Chowdhry, as the duly elected president of the SCBA.
In the past few days, the government has announced that it has released thousand of detainees, including lawyers, judges, journalist, political activist, human rights workers and others. However, it is reported that over 1,000 lawyers have remained in jail. The names, place of detention and reasons as to why they are continuously detained have not been made public by the government.
In the press release the issued by the AHRC AHRC-PL-051-2007, serious concerns were raised with regard to the great risk that persons remaining in jail face of being tortured, maltreated, killed or disappeared, unless they are fully accounted for and their families are allowed access to visit them to ascertain their condition. The government has continuously failed to provide basic information regarding the condition of these detainees, particularly their names and their places of detention. It is extremely difficult to ascertain the exact number of person in jail and those who could have disappeared because of this condition.
Please write letters to the concerned authorities below requesting their immediate intervention to ensure that remedies are afforded to Mr. Munir Malik. Action must be taken against those responsible in arresting, detaining and torturing him in custody. Please also urge that immediate action must be taken to ensure that those who remained in detention are properly treated and that they are released without further delay. The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Independence of Judges and Lawyers for their intervention in this case.
PAKISTAN: Prominent lawyer tortured, poisoned in detention; two others held incommunicado
Name of the victim in serious condition:
Mr. Munir A. Malik, former president of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Bar Association. He was detained at the Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi and subsequently to Attock Jail before he was taken to hospital for treatment
Place of confinement: Pakistan Institute of Science Management (PIMS) Hospital, Islamabad
Name of persons held incommunicado detention:
1. Mr. Ali Hmed Kurd, former President of Pakistan Bar Council
2. Mr. Tariq Mehmood, a former president of Supreme Court Bar Association
I am writing to express my grave concern regarding the present health condition of Mr. Munir Malik, former president of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Bar Association (SCBA) who is presently admitted at a hospital due to his serious condition.
As you are aware, at the early stage of his arrest and detention, we have already drawn your attention to Mr. Maliks deteriorating condition. We rightly mentioned that his urine had already started emitting traces of blood due to severe beatings. Though the security forces who taking custody of him following his arrest on November 3 took him to hospital for treatment they did not allow him to fully recover. They took him back to the detention center and did not provide his regularly medications for his injuries.
He was held incommunicado in Attock Jail, a remote jail in a mountainous area in the north western frontier province for a week, in an isolation cell which is just only four feet wide and five feet high. The security officers only allowed him to emerged shortly from his cell once a day; however, all day his cell in completely dark and all night a powerful bulb is put on making it extremely difficult if not impossible for him to fall asleep. I have also learned that the drink and food rations given to him could have contained poison.
The victim has told the physicians examining him that his condition has worsened after he was forced to take the drinks and food supplied to him. The physicians examining Mr. Malik have found out that his kidney and liver are no longer functioning properly. His urine has likewise continued to emit traces of blood as it was before and they have had to perform dialysis treatment twice now for him to gain immediate relief.
I am extremely shocked by the manner security forces have treated Mr. Malik while he is in detention. The complicity by the jail authorities and the security forces that arrested and detained him following his arrest is completely unacceptable. In doing so, the government blatantly violates international laws and standards which require the minimum requirement for treatment of prisoners. As you are aware, freedom from torture is a non-derogable right by which the government is obliges to observe regardless of the countrys condition.
I therefore urge you to ensure that Mr. Malik obtain remedies and redress from the violation perpetrated on him. The government must take action to ensure that those responsible of brutally torturing and inhumanely treating him are held to account. It must also ensure that adequate and appropriate medication is afforded to him for his complete recovery.
Also, I urge you to take action to prevent similar brute and inhumane treatment perpetrated against the detainees arrested on the pretext of the state of emergency. I have learned that two other persons, Mr. Ali Hmed Kurd, former President of Pakistan Bar Council and Mr. Tariq Mehmood, a former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, have been held incommunicado ollowing their arrest. It is extremely difficult to ascertain the exact details of their present condition however due to restriction imposed on the information of this nature.
As you are aware, although the government have announced it already released thousand of detainees, the details regarding the names, places of detention and the present condition of those who remained in jail, have not been made in public. Once again, I urge you to ensure that these information are made available in public as a requirement to prevent this persons from being subject to torture, maltreatment, and other forms of abuses.
Please ensure that each of the detainees and those arrested are fully accounted for and their respective families are allowed access to visit them to ascertain their condition. The detainees and their family must also be informed properly as to why they are continuously detained and that necessary assistance must be afforded to them. Appropriate medications must also be afforded to for the sick detainees and those needing treatment.
I trust that your action in this serious matter is forthcoming.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. General Pervez Musharraf
Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
Email: (please see-> http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx)
2. Mr. Afzal Haider
Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
S Block Pakistan Secretariat
Fax: +92 51 920 2628
3. Federal Minister of Interior
Room#404, 4th Floor, R Block,
Tel: + 92 51 9212026
Fax: + 92 51 9202624
(Criminal Prosecution) SGA &CD Department
Government of Sindh
Karachi, Sindh Province
Tel: +92 21 9213327-6
Fax: +92 21 9213873
5. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court Building
Tel: +92 51 9213770
Fax: +92 51 9213452
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)