Reprieve and its local partner, Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), are fighting a ground-breaking case in the Lahore High Court after identifying seven Pakistani prisoners held in Bagram, Afghanistan and offering their families free legal assistance.
The seven prisoners are Awal Noor, Hamidullah Khan, Abdul Haleem Saifullah, Faizal Karim, Amal Khan,Yunus Rahmatullah and Iftikhaar Ahmed. All seven are Pakistani citizens who are being held indefinitely at Bagram without access to lawyers and without having been informed of the evidence against them. Some have been there for many years. Some have been abused. One prisoner is merely 16 years of age and was seized two years ago at the age of 14. Another was not permitted to speak to his family for six years, and is believed to be in a grievous physical and psychological condition.
The case was filed in the Lahore High Court in October 2010 against the Government of Pakistan for violating the fundamental and constitutional rights of its own citizens. Reprieve and the JPP argue that by becoming “mixed up in the wrongdoing”, the Pakistan government and its agencies have violated several provisions in Pakistan’s constitution, including the right to security, due process, and freedom from torture. Moreover, since Pakistan has signed and ratified the Convention Against Torture (CAT), the government has also violated international law.
The prisoners’ families have suffered severe emotional and economic hardship and are desperate to see their loved ones again. The father of Abdul Haleem Saifullah, upon learning that his son was in Bagram, became so sick with worry that he died one year later. Amal Khan’s mother breaks down each time she tries to speak to her son via the International Committee of the Red Cross. Awal Noor’s family, who relied on the income he earned repairing cars and then as a goat-herder, struggle to make ends meet.
In the last year the Obama Administration has attempted to legitimise Bagram Prison, claiming that conditions and procedures there have been improved, and conceding that many prisoners are wrongfully held. This case will test the Obama Administration’s resolve and the Pakistani Government’s commitment to securing the rights of its citizens in illegal detention facilities abroad.
The prisoners’ families have asked the Court to secure the immediate release of their loved ones, and to bring criminal charges against the Pakistani Government for violations of Pakistani and international law.