Friday, November 14, 2008

Royal Commission of Inquiry for the Lourdes Mary case

The Malaysian Bar has come out in response to the IGP's justification for the harassment of lawyer Surendran..

Harassment of lawyers may be the focus now - but let us not forget Lourdes Mary - who was allegedly deprived/denied her diabetic medication resulting in her leg swelling up, and finally her fainting in court and having to be rushed off to the hospital. She could have died. [If that is the level of healthcare being accorded to detainees, I would not be surprised that there will be deaths in the future]

We had a Royal Commission of Inquiry for the 'Nude Squat Case' - and now there are reforms.

Likewise, there is a need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry for the Lourdes Mary case...

Press Release

Harassment of Lawyers on the Increase

The Bar Council reiterates that cases of lawyers being harassed and/or intimidated by the police are on the increase.

We urge the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to immediately stop such unwarranted action whereby his officers call in lawyers representing clients, to have their statements recorded, purportedly to assist in investigations.

We note that this trend is prevalent more so in cases of purported breaches of public order that involve citizens exercising their legitimate right to dissent. This immediately conjures up the perception that the police force is selective in carrying out investigations, targeting legitimate dissenters exercising their rights of assembly or expression, which are protected under our Federal Constitution.

We call on the police to respect the Rule of Law, which includes the right to legal access and the substantially unfettered right, recognised in law, to legal representation without the undue harassment and intimidation of lawyers carrying out their duties as officers of the court.

In the specific case of Lawyer N. Surendran, we refute the IGP's version of events when he stated that Surendran was called for questioning in order for the police to “ record his statement and complete investigations into the remand” of some arrested persons, including his clients.

N. Surendran was in fact notified by police officers that a report had been lodged against him for alleged statements he had made during the proceedings in court. Subsequently, a Section 111 notice was served on him for those alleged statements.

The Bar Council reiterates that Surendran was also previously called by the police under similar circumstances, followed by Americk Sidhu and M. Puravalen.

We reiterate the importance of respecting the Rule of Law and the right of access to legal representation as a fundamental tenet of any truly democratic society. We urge the police to allow lawyers to carry out their duties without any fear or favour.

Ragunath Kesavan


Malaysian Bar

13 November 2008

The Bar's statement was a response to the IGP. Questioning of a lawyer of what he and his client talked about is utter nonsense. Lawyers should never be forced into becoming ....'police spies'(for want of a better word...)

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan said lawyer N Surendran was called up as police wanted to record his statement to complete investigation on the remand case of ten Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) supporters who gathered in front of the Prime Minister’s Department in Putrajaya on Oct 23.

Police action in calling up Surendran was not aimed at scaring or harassing lawyers as claimed by the Bar Council,” he said in a statement here today.

Musa said the police action was in accordance with the law under Section 126 of the Evidence Act.

“Although Section 126 of the Evidence Act gives lawyers the privilege of communicating with clients, subsection (1)(a) and (b) of the section could dismiss the privilege based on two things.” They were “any communication that can lead to acts against the law” and “any facts known by the defence counsel that shows that a crime or fraud had been committed since he took over the case.” The IGP said based on the provision of the section, lawyers could give statements to the police.

“PDRM (Royal Malaysian Police) want to stress that the Bar Council statement that the police action was harassment or scaring tactic was untrue and inaccurate. We are only conducting our duty professionally based on the country’s law,” he said.
Bar Council president Datuk S.Ambiga was reported as saying that police action in calling up the lawyer was harassment and a threat to lawyers who were also officers of the court.- New Straits Times, 11/11/2008,IGP: Calling up of lawyer in accordance with the law

No comments: