Dr Aafia’s lawyer asks govt to move ICJ

The News Saturday, November 28, 2009

By Usman Manzoor

ISLAMABAD: After being subjected to a strip search, Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani woman held by the Americans on account of terrorism charges, is not allowed to receive even ordinary mail in the New York jail.

Barrister Iqbal Jafree, her lawyer, while talking to The News disclosed that he and a few members of Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s family had been continuously writing to her in New York but the letters always returned undelivered because of wrong address. “I cannot understand that the post offices in USA do not know the addresses of Metropolitan Detention Centre (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York and the address of the Federal Court,” said the lawyer who spent decades in the US.

He said that it was the fundamental right of a prisoner to receive mail and to send mail. “But I think the Americans have forgotten these moral principles when it comes to a poor, ailing Pakistani lady.”

He said: “The family of Aafia cannot interact with her even through ordinary mail and we listen to long lectures on human rights by the Americans when their own interest is involved.”

Barrister Jafree said that after passing five years of horrendous detention, reportedly at the Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, the woman was subjected to continuous humiliation at the Metropolitan Detention Centre (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, in the name of strip search.

The lawyer said that the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui could be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) under the Pak-US Treaty of Friendship and Commerce signed in 1959, as the government had failed to secure her repatriation through diplomatic means. Mentioning the clauses of the treaty, the lawyer observed that Aafia’s case could be shifted to the ICJ on a simple letter from the Government of Pakistan.

He said that one simple application from the government could bring the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui to the ICJ where there would be independent judges who could judge better the reality about the Pakistani doctor.

He claimed that the charges against Dr Aafia were rubbish but Americans would never let her go. “We have the examples of Aimal Kansi and an Italian underworld don after whose execution Italy stopped extraditing prisoners to USA”, said the lawyer.

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