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Reinstating judges important step in restoring rule of law in Pakistan - UN official

17 March 2009 – The United Nations human rights chief has welcomed the Pakistani Government’s decision to reinstate the former Supreme Court Chief Justice and other judges, who had been removed from their posts in 2007, as an important step in restoring the rule of law in the country.

Navi Pillay also welcomed the Government’s pledges to free opposition activists and leaders who had been arbitrarily detained over the past week or so and to lift the ban on public demonstrations in the capital and provinces, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva today.

“Reinstating all of the 60 judges who had been sacked by the previous administration was an important step in the process of restoring the rule of law in Pakistan,” he stated.

“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,” he said, adding that the High Commissioner calls on the Government to release all activists that had been arrested during the recent protests.

Mr. Colville noted that since last year, Pakistan has taken a number of steps to promote human rights and the rule of law, including signing and ratifying global treaties and establishing a Ministry for Human Rights.

“However, OHCHR did not believe that sustainable peace and political stability within Pakistan, and in the wider region, would be achieved without real and sustainable advances on the human rights front,” he said.

Signing up to key international treaties was a very important step, but the challenge now is to ensure they were properly reflected in national law, and that the national laws are properly implemented, he stressed.

Last week, amid growing political tensions in the country, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Pakistan’s leaders to solve all their differences through an honest dialogue to be able to deal with the multitude of challenges the country and the region face.

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