Barrister Amjad Malik, Chairman (APL) an Association of Pakistani origin Solicitors, Barristers, Judges and ex pat members has taken a serious note of Dr Afia Siddiqui’s sentence on 23 September 2010 for 76 years and her earlier conviction of 3 February 2010 by Jury of 12 men at USA and has declared her treatment inhuman and her trial unfair in USA. Her sentence of 86 years may result in a stumbling block between US-Pak people to people contact and relations between states. APL Chair said that US system of justice is able to dispense justice and Dr Afia Siddiqui needed justice which must be seen to be done and no better but through US courts and at the moment US judicial system is failed Dr Afia Siddiqui, her family and millions eyeing on the trial across the globe.
Dr Afia was allegedly kidnapped and kept at Bagram Airfield without the aid of a lawyer, doctor and or consulate access for years and being a Muslim women that has the potential to charge the mood of the public.USA is already making efforts to bridge the gap between the people of Pakistan and US Administration and Dr. Afia’s conviction will wipe out all efforts and this decision seems to have dictated through fears than the facts and law.
Dr Afia is demonised as ‘Al-Qaeda’ lady or in official circles as ‘the grey lady of Bagram’ without substance of her association or affiliation which in itself is a criminal offence, and under the circumstances may never get a fair trial from the jury due to 9/11 as in built prejudice against the perpetrators of the 9/11 makes it impossible to allow a fair hearing against anyone who is alleged to be an associate. Though USA has failed to prove or at least bring it open the limits of her engagements.
Amjad Malik has said that as has been witnessed in UK that many convictions were overturned by the court of appeal considering it either excessive or on narrow interpretation, and or due to fear of miscarriage of justice, similarly we feel that common sense will prevail at higher court(s) at appeal where the conviction will be quashed. In principles of law Dr Afia should not have been at Bagram at first place, where she was detained as prisoner no.650 and there was no record, mention and or trial at a place of her kidnap, and or place of her first detention and there are allegation(s) of torture. Now either we know the half truth or the US authorities are concealing material facts from the court(s).
We all feel that Dr. Afia’s conviction of 3 February 2010 and her sentence on 23 September 2010 is a decision of a court of law of first instance which must be respected, though we all have disagreements on rational reasons with the judgements as is in any society, and that’s why we have appeal system. US system of justice is able to dispense justice and Dr Afia Siddiqui needs justice which must be seen to be done and no better but through US courts which must show its muscles and allow her a fair hearing on appeal meeting the norms of the Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 which allows any person to have a fair trial. At the moment US judicial system is failing Dr Afia Siddiqui, her family and millions eyeing on the trial across the globe.
If court decisions are allowed to be dictated by fears or through prejudices, then I am afraid the future of our multi religious & cultural societies is bleak and onus falls on American administration to either grant presidential pardon and release her to allow her to go home freely or USA’s criminal justice system who are at a crossroad to produce some tangible results in their system through its institutions assuring minority community, and looking at the case of Brown v Board of Education, 347 US 483 (1954) where so rightly Supreme Court gave decision against segregation of white and Black children in the public state school solely on the basis of race because that segregation was against the principle of equal protection of law guaranteeing Fourteenth Amendment, at this juncture based on the past knowledge, I am sure, they can ensure justice with Muslim minorities in USA similarly as they did with the black minorities during the race war in the past, and they need to prove it by action(s) not words.
He said Pakistani media, lawyers, and civil society has a crucial role to highlight this issue and with the passage of time as they did with the issue of 10 Pakistani students detained in ‘operation pathway’ fighting to clear their name. Pakistani Government forgot each one of them soon media lost interest in that story. We are afraid that the same fate could be that of Dr Afia who suffered in silence.
APL has demanded the President Obama for a Presidential pardon upon sentence to foster good will with the people of Pakistan or an immediate withdrawal of charges against Dr. Afia Siddiqui and the legal team must appeal against the conviction & sentence considering it unsafe due to fear of miscarriage of justice & possible breach of Article 6 of the ECHR 1950; APL chair said we have further demanded her repatriation to Pakistan forthwith after sentence; and announcement of a Public enquiry into her missing whereabouts from 2003-2008, her place of arrest, allegation(s) of torture during her arrest, and whereabouts of where were her two missing two children all this time, and how they appeared on surface.