Lawyers Protection Act Needed To Save Legal Fraternity From Violence
On August 22, 2020 a video showing a shaken middle aged woman narrating how she was abducted and tortured for days went viral on social media. It prompted protests from the lawyers community. The survivor named Irshad Naseem advocate is a lawyer from Depalpur district of Okara, and was abducted from her office on August 14, 2020. She was later found in the Mailsi district on August 22.
This is not the first case of its nature as lawyers in the past have been abducted, attacked or even murdered. Let us talk about the month of August in the province of Punjab. An advocate and his brother were killed brutally in Sargodha. Another lawyer was killed in Kasur along with two others and a lawyer of Faisalabad was abducted and subsequently killed.
Similarly, there have been several incidents of attack and assault on other lawyers. A member of Lahore Bar Association received injuries in an attack, while another was attacked in Sialkot and two other lawyers became victims of a violent attack in Layyah.
Lawyers in Pakistan have been facing this brutality since along. They have also been at the receiving end of terrorist attacks. Quetta twin blasts in August 2016 decimated the entire cream of Quetta’s lawyers. Riots in Karachi on May 12, 2007 and terrorist attacks i.e Islamabad District Courts attack of March 2014 are other instances of violence targeting the lawyers community.
Lawyers all around the globe are the guardians of the legal systems and are an integral part of the judicial system. They are the voices who play a major role in the reformation of the judiciary and the society at large.
According to former Chief Justice of Pakistan Irshad Hassan Khan, as written by him in a judgment ,
“The judges cannot perform their duty without support and cooperation of the Bar.” The importance of the legal fraternity is obvious from the words of the judges of apex courts in the country yet, several instances take place all over the country where they are targeted with impunity. While most of such acts of violence emerge from the cases which the lawyers take up, there are no explicit provisions in law to protect them against these heinous acts.
The lawyers around the globe need protection against violence. This factum is too well evident from the recent resolution of UNHCR (United Nation Human Rights Committee), the committee in June 2017 in its 35th session adopted resolution emphasizing protection of lawyers from frequent attacks on the independence of lawyers. The one liner extract of the resolution is,
“States should respect and protect lawyers who promote and defend human rights defenders”
Pakistan is also a member of the UNHCR and it is the government’s responsibility to implement the international body’s resolution.
Lawyers are meant to safeguard the rights of ordinary citizens, yet in Pakistan they themselves need to be protected from the outlaws. There is a critical need to enact laws to provide protection to the lawyers from the acts of violence which they face in line of duty.
The purpose of this legislation should be to protect the advocates, thereby further fostering the proper functioning of judicial system. Any personal dispute of criminal nature, which has no relation with the profession or practice of an advocate, shall not be relevant to the ambit of this bill. Further, this bill should also cover maintenance and protection of their families from these acts as it is also seen that the lives of families of advocates are also put under high threat in such situations.
The state is otherwise responsible for the protection of her citizens but as far as the profession of Lords is concerned, the government shall take necessary and urgent steps to get a Lawyers Protection Act enacted in order to protect lives and independence of the lawyers. This is indeed the need of the hour, otherwise the system of justice will die its own death.