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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 174rd session (Mexico, 23 April 2004)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the outline of the case of Senator Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/174/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 173rd session (October 2003),

Taking account of two communications from the Senate of Pakistan, dated 16 and 15 March 2004, and of the information provided by members of the Pakistani delegation at the hearing held on the occasion of the 110th Assembly (April 2004),

Also taking account of a communication from one of the sources dated 25 March 2004,

Recalling that Mr. Zardari was tortured on 17 and 19 May 1999 while in the custody of the Central Investigative Agency (CIA), as found by the District and Session Judge of Malir Karachi in his conclusions of 11 September 1999; instead of acting against the culprits, the authorities brought two charges of attempted suicide against Mr. who was subsequently acquitted in court, as acknowledged by the delegation; considering that almost five years later no action has been taken to punish the culprits, a delay which the delegation acknowledged as excessive, while adding that Mr.had yet to identify the officers responsible,

Recalling the consistent concerns it has expressed at Mr. Zardari's prolonged detention since November 1996 and the fact that, whenever he was about to be released on bail in cases pending against him, his arrest was ordered in a new case or in an already pending case, allegedly to ensure his continued detention,

Recalling that many criminal and accountability proceedings were brought against Mr. some of which have now been under way for more than seven years without reaching the trial stage; in September 2001, the Supreme Court issued an order that the accountability references be disposed of in three months so as to allow Mr. Zardari subsequently to face trial in the six criminal cases in Karachi; the order was subsequently extended for a further three months; in the light of the failure of the authorities to respect the timetable, Mr. Zardari's defence filed an appeal with the Supreme Court; on 14 May 2003 that Court reserved the order, which has not been announced to date; according to information provided by the Senate, the National Accountability Bureau filed an appeal in the Supreme Court on 13 October 2003, which was still pending, to ensure that Mr. Zardari could be judged alternately in Islamabad and Karachi every three months; recalling further that, while the source has held the authorities responsible for the delays in the criminal and accountability proceedings, the latter have blamed the length of the proceedings on Mr.and his lawyers; considering in this respect that, according to the Pakistani delegation, Mr.’s ill health regularly required postponement of the proceedings,

Considering that,according to the delegation, Mr.has recently been allowed to travel to Switzerland to enable him to defend himself before a Swiss court on money-laundering charges,

  1. Thanks the Pakistani delegation for the information it provided and for its commitment to continuing cooperation;

  2. Is deeply concerned at the authorities' lack of resolve to act on the conclusive judicial findings adopted more than four years ago that Mr. Zardari was tortured by State officials;

  3. Stresses that the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (United Nations General Assembly resolution 3452 (XXX) of 9 December 1975) leaves no doubt as to the responsibility of the authorities to take action by stating that "criminal proceedings shall be instituted against the alleged offender or offenders…if an investigation establishes that an act of torture appears to have been committed";

  4. Urges the authorities once more to put the judicial findings into effect without any further delay and, using the register with the names of the officers on duty at the time and place of Mr.’s torture, to identify the culprits and bring them to trial;

  5. Is perplexed at the delegation's contention that Mr.’s ill health, which, owing to the alleged lack of proper medical attention in detention, has long been a concern in itself, is to blame for the delay in the proceedings;

  6. Notes that it transpires from this observation that Mr. Zardari is indeed in ill health; considers this to be a compelling reason for granting him bail;

  7. Fails to understand how two appeals requesting the establishment of a timetable for a series of already excessively lengthy proceedings can remain unanswered by the Supreme Court for more than 6 and 11 months respectively; would greatly appreciate receiving clarification in this respect;

  8. Recalls that, under internationally recognised human rights norms, anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge must be either tried without undue delay or released immediately;

  9. Fears that the length of the proceedings and complete lack of progress in several of the proceedings, coupled with the serious allegations of Mr.arrest in a new or dormant case whenever his release on bail was imminent, may indicate that his detention and prosecution is based on other than legal considerations;

  10. Urges therefore the authorities either to conclude the proceedings without any further delay or to close them;

  11. Wishes to be kept informed of developments in the money-laundering case to be heard in a Swiss court;

  12. Takes note with satisfaction of the expressed commitment of the Pakistani delegation to raise the outstanding concerns in this case in Parliament and to assist in providing the requested information; wishes to ascertain what subsequent action is taken by Parliament to avail itself fully of its oversight function in this case;

  13. Requests the Secretary General to convey the resolution to the authorities and to the sources;

  14. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 1111h Assembly (September-October 2004).

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