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Rule of Law Suspended in Pakistan

General Pervez Musharraf has been Pakistan’s army chief as well as president since seizing power in a 1999 coup, despite prohibition by the country’s Constitution against the military chief holding political office. In response to challenges by Musharraf’s opponent and others, Pakistan’s Supreme Court undertook examination of the legitimacy of his re-election in October. However, before the courts could announce a decision, Musharraf, in his role as army chief, declared a state of national emergency.

With that November 3 declaration, Musharraf suspended the Constitution, dissolved the federal cabinet, and dismissed justices unwilling to sign an oath. More than half of Pakistan’s sitting judges have been dismissed. Hundreds of lawyers have been placed under house arrest or detained and denied bail. Human rights, free and fair elections, and the rule of law have been widely suppressed.

This petition supports and responds to a petition issued by Dean Harold Hongju Koh of the Yale Law School (http://www.law.yale.edu/news/5866.htm). Participants are encouraged to join that petition as well.


Petition in Support of Pakistan’s Lawyers

We, the undersigned members of the University of Minnesota Law School community--deans, faculty, student body, staff, and alumni--as well as the greater University of Minnesota community hereby declare our unequivocal opposition to the violent suppression of the rule of law and human rights by General Pervez Musharraf’s government in Pakistan.* His government’s attacks on the judiciary, the legal profession, and legitimate political dissent are both unjustified and unacceptable. By declaring a state of emergency; dismissing over 60% of Pakistan’s sitting judges; detaining or placing under house arrest thousands of lawyers, opposition activists, journalists, and other law abiding citizens; and denying bail, General Musharraf has launched an assault on the very foundations of rule of law and accountability. Fair elections in January will be impossible under such conditions.

We stand in solidarity with Pakistan’s legal community, which has a long and fine tradition of supporting justice, democracy, and accountability, especially in times of difficulty and crisis. We hope for a peaceful end to the state of emergency, the release of arrested lawyers and judges, the restoration of Pakistan’s judiciary, and a return to the rule of law. We call for the international community to maintain pressure on the government of Pakistan to restore the Constitution and hold free and fair elections as soon as possible.


Guy-Uriel Charles
Co-Dean, Law School
Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennet Professor of Law

Fred Morrison
Co-Dean, Law School
Popham, Haik, Lindquist & Vennum Professor of Law

David Weissbrodt
Regents Professor and Fredrikson & Byron Professor of Law
Co-Director, Human Rights Center

Kristi Rudelius-Palmer
Co-Director, Human Rights Center

Brad Karkkainen
Professor of Law and Henry J. Fletcher Chair

Carol Chomsky
Professor of Law

Beverly Balos
Professor of Law

Richard W. Painter
Professor of Law

Maury Landsman
Professor of Law

Laura J. Cooper
Professor of Law and J. Stewart & Mario Thomas McClendon Professor in Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alexandra Klass
Associate Professor of Law

Lisa Stratton
Clinical Professor

Mary Lou Fellows
Everett Fraser Professor of Law

Vincente Garces
Reference & Collection Development Librarian

Brett McDonnell
Professor & Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Steve Marchese
Director, Career and Professional Development Center

Ann Burkhart
Professor of Law

William McGeveran
Associate Professor of Law

Barry Feld
Centennial Professor of Law

Bruce Shnider
Adjunct Associate Professor of Law

* The views reflected in this petition are those of the individuals and not those of the University or the Law School.