Pakistan law defender scoops Editor’s Award

The Lawyer Editor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement has been won by Hina Jiliani, Pakistan’s most high-profile campaigner for rule of law and victims of violence.

Pakistan law defender scoops Editor's AwardThe LawyerEditor’s Award for Outstanding Achievement was won last night by Hina Jiliani, Pakistan’s most high-profile campaigner for the victims of domestic, fundamentalist and feudalistic violence.

The trophy, presented by Lord Falconer at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel last night, is also in recognition of Jilani’s support for the rule of law under attack by Pakistan’s president Pervez Musharraf, who issued a warrant for her arrest when he declared a state of emergency in November 2007.

In the context of current events including the ‘long march’ of lawyers protesting for the re-instatement of senior judges sacked by Musharraf last year (The Lawyer, 16 June 2008), Jilani has campaigned tirelessly on behalf of the lawyers and judges at risk, holding a press conference at the Law Society of England and Wales in November 2008, as well as demonstrations at Downing Street.

The Law Society of England and Wales backed the campaign, launching a petition to condemn the lawlessness in Pakistan in November, while in January it held crisis talks in an attempt to have imprisoned lawyers and judges freed.

Jilani has also served for eight years as a Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders for the UN, while further back in her career in 1980, Jilani co-founded Pakistan’s first all-female legal practice with her sister Asma Jahangir.

On 12 February 1983 the two women began a 20-day prison sentence for protesting on behalf of a blind girl named Safia Bibi who had been raped but was in jail for adultery – a date that has since been immortalised as Pakistan Women’s Day, when every year women in Pakistan come out onto the streets to commemorate the beginning of the struggle.

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