UPDATE: Pakistan: Supreme Court adjourns hearing of Mukhtar Mai’s case indefinitely

Update on: Pakistan: Interference in the case of Mukhtar Mai

12/02/2009: Mukhtar Mai’s counsel, Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, had moved an application for adjournment, which was considered the best course of action in the current circumstances. With no right to a further appeal, Mai’s rapists will stay in jail. However, the threat to the safety of Mukhtar Mai, and her family, from those implicated in the interference in her case remains.

A message of thanks from Mukhtar Mai Women’s Welfare Organization:

“Hats off to all of you for your efforts for all the interventions you made in support of Mukhtar! and to Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan for agreeing to appear for Mukhtar’s case because he has not been appearing in any case because of his principled stand believing the imposition of emergency and sacking of the judiciary in November 2007 illegal and unconstitutional. Barrister Ahsan is former President of Supreme Court Bar Association and is one of the main leader of the lawyers movement.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Mukhtar Mai Women’s Welfare Organization cautions that we have to ensure the perpetrators do not receive favourable treatment because of their political influence. It is much more important now because the threat to the lives of Mukhtar Mai, her family and colleagues has increased after exposing the minister’s act.

The Welfare organization recommend we continue our written interventions and ask the government of Pakistan to:

* Ensure that interference and political influence is not used in the proceedings of the case.

* Hold accountable the Federal Minister Mr. Abdul Qayyum Jatoi for his interference in a sub-judice matter and demand that he should be de-seated from his public office.

* Develop a security system for the safety and security of Mukhtar Mai, her family and colleagues, because of the increased threat to their lives, and that the police official should be directed to ensure that the security system is being implemented in letter and spirit.

ADDRESSES

His Excellency
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Avenue
Islamabad, PAKISTAN
Phone: +92-51-9206069
FAX: +92-51-9203297 & +92-51-922 1422

His Excellency
Mr. Yousuf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad, PAKISTAN
Phone: +92-51-9206111
Fax: +92-51-9206907

Mr. Rehman Malik
Advisor / Minister for Interior
R Block, Pak Secretariat
Islamabad, PAKISTAN
Email Address: ministry.interior@gmail.com, interior.complaintcell@gmail.com
Tel: +92-51-9212026
Fax: +92-51- 9202624

Ms. Sherry Rehman
Minister for Women Development
1/F, State Building: 5
Ministry of Women Development
Islamabad, PAKISTAN
+92-51-920 1083

Mr. Salman Tasseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Lahore, PAKISTAN
Fax: +92-42-9200077

Pakistan: Interference in the case of Mukhtar Mai

9/02/2009: The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network is deeply concerned by the fact that a sitting Federal Minister, Mr. Qayyum Jatoi, has pressured Mukhtar Mai, the well-known women’s human rights defender, to drop charges against the accused in her case.

In 2002, 14 men from the dominant Mastoi tribe in Meeranwalla, Pakistan volunteered to rape Ms Mukhtar Mai as a way to settle a score after her 12-year-old brother Abdul Shakoor was seen walking with a Mastoi girl. The decision on retribution had been taken by a village court to preserve tribal honour. The jirga, or council of village elders, summoned Ms Mai to apologise for her brother’s sexual misdeed. When she apologised, they gang-raped her anyway.

After the atrocity was carried out, Ms Mai was paraded naked before hundreds of onlookers. Finally, her father covered her with a shawl and took her home.

Mukhtar Mai, an unmarried daughter from a low-caste family, was not about to go quietly. She fought back in the courts and at first the legal decisions appeared to go her way. Half a dozen men involved in her rape were punished, with two sentenced to death. But since that early success events have begun to take an increasingly sinister and depressing turn. In 2005, a court in Lahore refused to extend a 90-day detention order and 12 of the 14 accused were ordered to be released. The case has gone into appeal, and now is expected to go to the Supreme Court.

WLUML received news that Ms. Mukhtar Mai’s case will be heard in the Pakistan Supreme Court in the second week of February 2009. However, reports suggest that a Federal Minister, Mr. Qayyum Jatoi, has pressured Ms. Mai into dropping charges against the accused. This represents a serious miscarriage of justice.

We demand that the authorities ensure the trial of those accused of attacking Ms. Mai goes ahead without interference, and that Ms. Mai be protected from any pressure to drop her case.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Please send a letter based on the following to the Pakistani authorities, the embassy of Pakistan in your home country and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders. Action is requested before 10 February, 2009.

SAMPLE LETTER

[Your Excellency / Dear Sir / Dear Madam]:

The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network is deeply concerned by the fact that a sitting Federal Minister, Mr. Qayyum Jatoi, has pressured Mukhtar Mai, the well-known women’s human rights defender, to drop charges against the accused in her case.

We believe that the Minister’s message is an indirect threat on the life and well-being of Mukhtar Mai and we fear that anything could happen and anyone can be used against Mukhtar, including extremists, outlaws, etc.

According to Mukhtar Mai, the Minister called her uncle, Ghulam Hussain, on 11th December 2008 to his place in Jatoi in order to have Mr. Hussain pass a message to Mukhtar. The Minister asked that Mukhtar drop all the charges against the thirteen accused of the Mastoi tribe who were involved either in the verdict against Mukhtar or had gang-raped her. The Minister threatened that if she does not comply, he and his associates will ensure that the Supreme Court finds against Mukhtar.

We have learned that Mukhtar Mai’s case is slated to be heard by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the second week of February 2009. The interference by Minister Qayyum Jatoi shows that the Mastoi clan has political influence of sufficient weight to bring pressure to bear on the Supreme Court.

We therefore urge your authority to:

• ensure Mukhtar Mai’s case is processed without any political pressure or influence;

• take special and urgent measures to ensure Mukhtar Mai’s safety and security before, during and especially after the hearing; and

• hold the Federal Minister accountable for his interference in an adjudicated matter and for threatening Mukhtar Mai.

We thank you in advance for your immediate attention to this grave matter.

Yours Sincerely,

[your name]

ADDRESSES

His Excellency
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Avenue
Islamabad, PAKISTAN
Phone: +92-51-9206069
FAX: +92-51-9203297 & +92-51-922 1422

His Excellency
Mr. Yousuf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad, PAKISTAN
Phone: +92-51-9206111
Fax: +92-51-9206907

Mr. Rehman Malik
Advisor / Minister for Interior
R Block, Pak Secretariat
Islamabad, PAKISTAN
Email Address: ministry.interior@gmail.com, interior.complaintcell@gmail.com
Tel: +92-51-9212026
Fax: +92-51- 9202624

Ms. Sherry Rehman
Minister for Women Development
1/F, State Building: 5
Ministry of Women Development
Islamabad, PAKISTAN
+92-51-920 1083

Mr. Salman Tasseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Lahore, PAKISTAN
Fax: +92-42-9200077,

Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders,
Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya
C/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Palais Wilson
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH 1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 93 88, email: MChingSimon@ohchr.org

Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
Room 3-042
c/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9615
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN)
High Commission for Pakistan
34 – 36 Lowndes Square London, ENGLAND
SW1X 9JN

BACKGROUND

For more background on this case please see here:

www.wluml.org/english/newsfulltxt

here: http://www.wluml.org/english/newsfulltxt.shtml?cmd[157]=x-157-187717

and here: http://www.wluml.org/english/newsfulltxt.shtml?cmd[157]=x-157-542952

wluml.org

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