COMMONWEALTH EMINENT PERSONS GROUP 2010-2011
Members of a Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (EPG), that authored a report on reform of the Commonwealth, have called for immediate Commonwealth action in relation to threats against the life of Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir.
The EPG, of whom Jahangir was one, last year submitted the report A Commonwealth of the People: Time for Urgent Reform, to Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Perth last October. One of its key recommendations is that the Commonwealth should establish a Commissioner for Democracy, the Rule of Law and Human Rights.
Members of the group made their call for action in a letter to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh, Sharma and the Chairman of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). The letter declares that the EPG members “are extremely troubled by the charges that Dr Jahangir has reliable information that her life is under threat from Pakistan’s security establishment”. They declared: “Given our knowledge of her and of her highly regarded work, we are confident that her charges would have been made only after the most careful consideration and in light of credible intelligence”.
The Group called on the Secretary-General “to request the Government of Pakistan to provide full protection for Dr Jahangir, and to launch an immediate and transparent inquiry into the threats directed at her”.
“We are sufficiently alarmed to suggest that you should appoint a ‘good offices’ representative to be engaged in this matter with the authorities in Pakistan to furnish both you and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) with information” the Group said.
Copying their letter to the Chair of CMAG, the EPG members asked that CMAG take appropriate steps “to advise the Government of Pakistan of the deep disquiet that this matter has engendered”.
The letter was signed by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Dr. Emmanuel O. Akwetey, Ms Patricia Francis, Mr Samuel Kavuma, The Hon Michael Kirby, Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Sir Ronald Sanders, and Senator Hugh Segal.