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Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Scottish Parliament strongly condemns Senator Azam Swati’s arrest

The Scottish Parliament believes that freedom of expression and debate is a fundamental principle for parliamentary democracies and further believes that those in government and military leadership are never above the scrutiny of parliamentarians.

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PTI Senator Azam Swati was released from an Islamabad sub-jail on 3rd January 2023. However, his arrest over a tweet criticizing former Chief of Army Staff General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa has been condemned by members of the Scottish Parliament who consider the motivation for Azam Swati’s arrest against basic principles of freedom of expression.

According to the details, Douglas Lumsden, from the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party submitted a motion over Azam Swati’s arrest in the Scottish Parliament on January 16, which has been supported by lawmakers Sharon Dowey and Paul Sweeney.

The Scottish Parliament noted with concern that Senator Azam Swati had been arrested for a prolonged period of time, that too with limited legal assistance, for tweeting criticism of former Army Chief General (retd) Bajwa.

Read more: Was arrested & tortured over a tweet against Gen Bajwa: Azam Swati

“The Scottish Parliament believes that freedom of expression and of debate is a fundamental principle for parliamentary democracies and further believes that those in government and military leadership are never above the scrutiny of parliamentarians,” the lawmakers said.

In honor of the strong ties between Scotland and Pakistan, the Parliament believes that Pakistani authorities should act in accordance with the rule of law and uphold their obligations under the international treaties of which the country is a signatory, and further believes that a fair and lawful judicial process should be applied to all citizens.

The Scottish Parliament further urged the appropriate authorities to act in accordance with what it sees as their obligations and lastly condemned all forms of custodial maltreatment and torture.

Read more: Thousands sign petition demanding justice for Azam Swati

The strong reaction from the lawmakers of the Scottish Parliament is significant as it shows that human rights violations by authorities in Pakistan are getting international attention. Shortly after Azam Swati’s arrest in October, PTI leader and former Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari wrote an open letter addressed to the Human Rights Committee, Geneva, and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment where she highlighted the arrest and ‘subsequent torture’ on Azam Swati.

Azam Swati’s arrest

Azam Swati was first arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in October for posting controversial tweets about the armed forces and was later released on bail. On November 27, he was arrested again by FIA over his second round of tweets about army officials.

Multiple FIRs were also registered against Azam Swati in Balochistan and Sindh and the past few months have been a whirl of police custody and court appearances for the PTI leader.

Since then, Azam Swati has alleged that he was tortured in custody and demanded the removal of two military officials, one of whom he used foul language against in his tweet on November 26.

Read more: Azam Swati reveals shocking details of his custodial torture

Alleging torture, Azam Swati said he was dishonored in the worst possible way and death would have been better. Sharing the horrific details of his torture, Azam Swati said he was stripped naked, beaten, and his screams were recorded.