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20 January 2008

Government and business leaders meeting President Musharraf must address the human rights situation in Pakistan

Amnesty International urges all governments and business leaders meeting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in Europe this week to call for an end to the human rights violations which have continued despite the lifting of the State of Emergency last month.

"Arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, and torture and ill-treatment -- coupled with pervasive political violence undermine the prospect of free and fair elections planned in February," said Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene Khan.

An Amnesty International delegation which spent the last month in the country documented a worsening human rights crisis.

"Amnesty International has collected a wealth of evidence on human rights violations and the breakdown of rule of law, which are sowing the seeds of a political catastrophe, with devastating consequences for ordinary people," continued Ms Khan.

Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, begins his week-long visit to Europe on Monday where he will meet, among others, the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, as well as attending the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

"As President Musharraf embarks on a tour of Europe to garner political and economic support, those who meet him have both the responsibility and opportunity to demand that his government bring to an end the human rights violations that have characterized the recent period of Pakistan's history, including by immediately restoring the independence of the judiciary," said Ms Khan.

Amnesty International is urging the Government of Pakistan to:

- end arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, and ill-treatment, politically-motivated criminal prosecutions, civil proceedings against or harassment of politicians, human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, and other members of civil society  

- stop the use of  "blind First Information Reports" – police complaints in which the suspect is unidentified – a practice which allows the government to harass and detain political opponents

- restore the independence of the judiciary by returning to service all judges removed during emergency rule

-  respect the right to freedom of expression and information, and the right to peaceful assembly. At rallies or other mass gatherings law enforcement officials must comply with international standards, and in particular should not use force unless strictly necessary and only to the minimum extent required

- conduct full and independent investigations into political assassinations, including that of Benazir Bhutto, and other unlawful killings and suicide attacks, and make public the findings

"The international community must give a clear and unequivocal message to President Musharraf that restoring respect for human rights and the rule of law is key to establishing confidence in the forthcoming elections and arresting the spate of political violence in Pakistan," said Ms. Khan.

AI Index: PRE01/019/2008
Region Asia And The Pacific
Country Pakistan
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