Friday July 12, 2024

Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief's arbitrary arrest by NAB

By Murtaza Ali Shah
March 25, 2020

LONDON: Amal Clooney’s Doughty Street Chambers has filed a complaint at the United Nations (UN) against the politically-motivated and arbitrary arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Editor-in-Chief of Jang and Geo, by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Doughty Street Chambers – where a set of internationally renowned barristers with a reputation for excellent work on international human rights issues – announced on Monday that an urgent appeal has been lodged on behalf of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and a second appeal has been made to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Doughty Street Chambers confirmed that these urgent appeals call on the United Nations experts to act and ensure that the Government of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the NAB complies with their obligations under international law, and that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman be released immediately.

The Doughty Street Chambers said: “Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested on 12 March by the NAB in Pakistan in a case concerning a property transaction that dates back 34 years to 1986. He has been imprisoned since, in unsafe and unhygienic conditions and without meaningful and regular access to his lawyers. Jang Media Group owns Geo TV as well as some of Pakistan’s largest newspapers.”

The Doughty Street Chambers explained that Mr Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest and detention comes following many attacks upon and targeting of him, Jang Media Group and its journalists by Imran Khan’s government and the NAB and a deteriorating climate for media freedom in Pakistan. Commenting on the arrest, a Jang Group spokesperson said: “In the past 18 months, the NAB sent our reporters, producers and editors, directly and indirectly, over a dozen notices, threatening shutdown of our channels, due to the Jang/Geo Group’s reporting and its programmes about the NAB. In its defence, the NAB has in writing said that it is a constitutionally-protected institution that can’t be criticised.”

The international counsel team for Mr Shakil-ur-Rahman, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, Tatyana Eatwell and Jennifer Robinson of Doughty Street Chambers, London, said: “Mr Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest and imprisonment – on spurious charges dating from transactions in 1986, over three decades ago – raise grave concerns. This not only violates our client’s rights to freedom from arbitrary detention and a fair trial, but this is part of a wider pattern. This is a targeted and concerted attack upon our client’s freedom of expression rights and freedom of the media in Pakistan, weaponising NAB procedures to shut down critics of the government. His detention is arbitrary and the authorities in Pakistan must comply with their international law obligations and release him forthwith.”

Simon Spanwick, Chief Executive of the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB), added: “The Association for International Broadcasting and its Members are deeply concerned that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the head of one of Pakistan’s major media groups, has been detained in contravention of both Pakistan and international law. Due process appears not to have been followed in this case and we call on the Pakistan authorities to immediately release him. We are further concerned that the Pakistan government has for the past two years been attempting to restrict access to Geo TV channels across the country, in contravention of the channels’ licences and carriage agreements. This is a blatant attempt to reduce freedom in Pakistan that this association deplores.”

The appeals have been filed with the United Nation (UN) as Pakistan is one of the nations that has signed agreements as part of UN to follow Human Rights laws and under the obligation to follow them.

Amal Clooney is known for being a vocal voice on the conditions in Gaza and the civilian casualties in the region.

As of 2011, Alamuddin was assisting the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the arbitration between Merck Sharp and Dohme and the Republic of Ecuador.Starting in 2014, Clooney represented Canadian Al Jazeera English journalist Mohamed Fahmy who, along with other journalists, was being held in Egypt. He was eventually sentenced to three years in prison and lost a retrial in August 2015 before finally being pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In August 2014, Clooney declined a UN commission to look into possible violations of the rules of war in Gaza during the Gaza war of 2014.

In October 2014, Clooney was hired in an attempt to repatriate the ancient Greek sculptures the Elgin Marbles. In May 2015, Greece decided to stop legal proceedings to recover the sculptures and dismissed her as their brief.

In January 2015, Clooney began work on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. She was representing Armenia on behalf of Doughty Street Chambers along with Geoffrey Robertson QC.

On 8 March 2015, Clooney filed a case against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines before the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, a body under the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, for the continued detention of former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Arroyo was a sitting Pampanga congresswoman at the time. On 2 October, The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention later released its opinion that the detention of former President Arroyo "violates international law" and is "arbitrary on a number of grounds".

On 7 April 2015, it was announced that Clooney would be part of the legal team defending Mohamed Nasheed, former president of the Maldives, in his ongoing arbitrary detention. Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail in March 2015 following what was characterised as a politically motivated trial. Amnesty International described his sentencing as a "travesty of justice". Prior to visiting the Maldives, the local co-counsel working on the case was stabbed in the head, an indication of the danger and instability in the country.

In 2016, it was announced that Clooney would represent Azerbaijani journalist Khadija Ismayilova at the European Court of Human Rights. Ismayilova's investigative work had resulted in her imprisonment. Following the trial, Ismayilova was released from prison and had her sentence reduced to a suspended three-and-a-half-year term.

In September 2016, Clooney spoke – for the first time at the United Nations – before the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to discuss the decision she made in June 2016 to represent Nadia Murad as a client in legal action against ISIL commanders. Clooney characterised the genocide, rape, and trafficking as a "bureaucracy of evil on an industrial scale" by ISIL, describing a slave market existing both online, on Facebook and in the Middle East that is still active today.

Clooney, along with Ara Darzi, was involved in securing the release of two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, from Myanmar on 7 May 2019.

In April 2019, Clooney became a special envoy at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, advising the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt on global media freedom. In her role as media freedom special envoy, Clooney will chair a panel of international lawyers to 'develop and promote legal mechanisms to prevent and reverse media abuses'.

Clooney studied at St Hugh's College, Oxford, where she received an Exhibition and the Shrigley Award. Clooney received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for excellence in entertainment law from NYU School of Law.

Clooney was chosen as Barbara Walters' Most Fascinating Person of 2015. At the 2014 British Fashion Awards, Clooney was shortlisted for Best British Style alongside David Beckham, Kate Moss, Keira Knightley and Emma Watson.

In 2019, Prince Charles launched the Amal Clooney Award to celebrate 'incredible young women'.