International Affairs

UK lawyers body APL Seeks US President’s intervention in Dr Afia’s case

APL (Association of Pakistani Lawyers), a team of Pakistani origin lawyers, Solicitors, Barristers, Judges in UK, held an emergency session of its executive and in their 25 September 2010 communiqué addressed to Barrack Obama, The President of USA and Foreign Secretary, Senator Hillary Clinton Has demanded that Govt. of United States must consider withdrawing charges against Dr Afia Siddiqui and her repatriation to Pakistan forthwith. APL Chair, Barrister Amjad Malik said , In this light of the above we have a cause to write to you on behalf of the Pakistani & Muslim community on the issue of Dr Afia Siddiqui’s Conviction which may result in a stumbling block between US-Pak people to people contact and relations between two states. Dr Afia was kidnapped and kept at Bagram Airfield without the aid of a lawyer, doctor and or consulate access for years and her being a female, Muslim women that has the potential to charge the mood of the public.

Mr. Malik wrote, 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 demonized as ‘Al-Qaeda’ lady or in official circles as ‘the grey lady of Bagram’ without substance of her association or affiliation as Association with Al-Qaeda itself is a criminal offence and that avenue has not been pursued. Under the circumstances she 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 allegedly portrayed by media or through whisper campaign to be an associate of that outfit no matter how much it is denied. Though, we agree that USA has failed to prove or at least bring it open the limits of her engagements

Chair of APL proposed 5 resolutions of demands:

Resolution of Demand:
1. Govt of United States must consider withdrawing charges against Dr Afia Siddiqui and her repatriation to Pakistan forthwith; or alternately;

2. Govt of United States must consider Presidential pardon for Dr Afia Siddiqui as she has been missing and or confined allegedly since 2003 and there is no account of her missing time in Bagram airfield and her conviction is unsafe considering the state of mind and or issues of serious allegation(s) of torture and maltreatment; or

3. Govt of United States must consider appealing this decision as it is an unsafe judgemnet as post 9/11 putting people of New York in a position of jurors to find a question of guilty/not guilty of a person who is highly publicised as allegedly associated with internationally notorious outfit (AL-Qaeda) is unreasonable and rules of natural justice and norms of Art.6 of the European Convention on Human Rights 1950 has not been met. 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, USA can ensure justice with Muslim minorities (its a test case in that scenario); There is overwhelming evidence of making this conviction unsafe i.e lack of DNA / finger prints evidence of her linking to the rifle, her unlawful presence at Bagram as the account of her arrest is not credible, discrepancies between the accounts of Interpreter, and other two witnesses, and no empty shells of the bullets fired were presented at court all makes the conviction unsafe; and these questions must be put to rest which questions the prosperity of US criminal justice system to be fair to Muslims post 9/11 as is the case in UK where many convictions were overturned by superior courts declaring them unsafe and excessive;

4. Govt of United States must consider prisoner exchange with the Govt of Pakistan as in the past many prisoners from Pakistan has been shifted to USA without judicial oversight, and on the similar approach Dr Afia Siddiqui must be returned to Pakistan to remain in Pakistani custody whilst the issue of her case (withdrawal/appeal and or pardon) are considered at home in USA as she has already spent many years in confinement and her return would ease her sufferings and will avoid hampering United States effort to increase people to people contact and efforts to winning the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people.

5. Govt of United States must consider setting up a commission to adjudicate the questions of true facts surrounding Dr Afia’s arrest, allegations of torture and mal treatment at Bagram airfield, and the issue of extra judicial and extra territorial confinement and imprisonment at Bagram where there are allegations that CIA paid huge monies to Pak officials for making successful arrests and Gen. Musharraf accepted that fact in his book, (in the line of fire). Dr Afia is a female, Muslim lady from Pakistan who is a highly educated (PhD from Brandeis University 2001) and has been either bought via CIA and or arrested in dubious circumstances at Pakistan and or Afghanistan; she has been strip searched, allegedly maltreated, interrogated mostly without lawyers , proper examination of a female doctor, and or consulate access at Afghanistan and has been shifted to USA without her consent. How come she was shown to be at Bagram in 2008 when people had knowledge of her whereabouts as prisoner no 650 prior to that date makes it desirable to settle the facts once for all to ease the people of Pakistan as this is the kind of material if remain uncertain acts as prima facie fodder for radicalisation which needs to be put at rest through proper enquiry. Incidents like Abu Gharib force APL to say that the allegation of such nature may not be easily refuted without an independent oversight or an enquiry. Enquiry into findings of fact will pave way for clarity and dispensation of fair trial ensuring justice which is seen to be done in future.

“We hope our representations are given due weight in the interest of public in order to promote rule of law, justice and true accountability of the forces and in order to fill the gaps between ancient civilizations who are at a crossroad to mend fences and be friends for the greater good of mankind and for the sake of humanity”, expected Barrister Amjad Malik.

About the author

Amjad Malik

Amjad Malik, Solicitor–Advocate of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, life member of SCBA of Pakistan, a specialist in immigration and Human Rights Law. He is a member of Law Society’s Immigration Law Committee’, he was awarded ‘Young Human Rights Lawyer Award’ for the year 2000. In the year 2001,Young Pro Bono Solicitor’s Group also named him for the national ‘Young Pro Bono Solicitor Award’. On 28 February 2007 he was awarded by (UICF) United International Community Forum (UK) in recognition to his outstanding professional contribution towards service of Asian and British community in role model capacity where Chief guest was Mrs. Cherrie Blair. He sits on ‘UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Pro Bono Lawyer’s Panel.’ He is UK representative on young lawyer committee of the International Bar Association & UK Director of Human Rights Foundation (USA) and is a current Vice chair of ‘Association of Pakistani Lawyers (UK)’.

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