November 5th, 2007 05:06 EST
UN Official voices alarm at imposition of state of emergency in Pakistan
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights today voiced alarm at the suspension of fundamental rights and imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan and called on the country's authorities to clarify the status of the detained and ensure that no one is held for their political beliefs.
In a statement, Louise Arbour expressed concern about reports that leading judges, lawyers and political and human rights activists have been detained or placed under house arrest, including UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Asma Jahangir.
She called on the Pakistani authorities to clarify the status of those detained and ensure that no one is detained for the peaceful exercise of their political beliefs.
“A state of emergency should only be used to deal with a dire security threat to the nation, not to undermine the integrity and independence of the judiciary,” the High Commissioner said.
The prohibition on arbitrary detention, torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, cannot be suspended even in times of emergency, she said. Such far-reaching restrictions of rights must be proportional and may only be applied to the extent and for the time strictly required by the situation, she noted.
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