Following last week’s military crackdown in Pakistan and the detention of hundreds of lawyers, the Harvard Law School Association has decided to award Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry its highest honor: The Harvard Law School Medal of Freedom. Chaudhry was detained after he convened the Pakistani Supreme Court to declare the current state of emergency imposed by General Pervez Musharraf to be null and void.
Although Chaudhry has been placed under house arrest and is not free to leave Pakistan, Dean Elena Kagan has reached out to the chief justice regarding the award and hopes that he’ll be able to come to the Law School to receive it when the state of emergency is lifted.
“As lawyers who value freedom and the rule of law, we at Harvard Law School want Chief Justice Chaudhry and all of the courageous lawyers in Pakistan to know that we stand with them in solidarity,” said Kagan. “We are proud to be their colleagues in the cause of justice, and we will do all we can to press for the prompt restoration of constitutionalism and legality in Pakistan.”
Hundreds of lawyers and other critics of Musharraf have been detained since the emergency rule was established more than a week ago. HLS graduates and practicing lawyers in Pakistan Babar Sattar LL.M. ’02 and Tariq Hassan LL.M. ’76 S.J.D. ’80 have spoken out in protest of the suspension of the constitution.
To raise awareness and further promote discussion about the events in Pakistan, the Harvard South Asia Initiative will be hosting campus-wide events on Friday, November 16.
The Medal of Freedom was established by Harvard Law School to honor the achievements of individuals who have worked to uphold the legal system’s fundamental commitment to freedom, justice, and equality. To symbolize this commitment, the award bears the image of Charles Hamilton Houston, whose leadership of the crusade that culminated in the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education exemplifies the highest ideals of our democracy.
Past recipients of the Medal of Freedom include the members of the Brown v. Board of Education litigation team and former South African President Nelson Mandela.