Thursday, April 29, 2010

Police must stop harassment of lawyers


Malaysian Bar Council
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No. 13, 15 & 17, Leboh Pasar Besar, 50050 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: 03-2031 3003 (Hunting Line) Fax: 03-2034 2825, 2026 1313, 2072 5818
E-mail: council@malaysianbar.org.my
Website: http://www.malaysianbar.org.my

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Press Release

Police must stop harassment of lawyers


The Malaysian Bar is disquieted and troubled that, once again, the police are intimidating a lawyer and obstructing his ability to execute his professional duties effectively as an officer of the court. Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar was served with a Section 111 notice to present himself for police questioning. He subsequently underwent four hours of interrogation on the Syariah matter he filed on behalf of his client, who was also questioned.

Such police harassment of lawyers is intolerable, as it threatens the independence of the Bar and constitutes a grave interference with a lawyer’s obligation to act for clients without fear or favour.

In addition, police questioning makes a complete mockery of the fundamental principle of solicitor-client confidentiality by which lawyers are bound. It shows a grave lack of respect for the criminal justice system, as the solicitor-client privilege lies at the core of this system.

This harassment must stop if we are indeed committed to the principle of access to justice and to the Rule of Law. It is internationally recognised that lawyers perform a vital function when they act for their clients in the pursuit of justice, and that they must be permitted to carry out these functions freely.

Both litigants and their lawyers must be protected from any form of intimidation in the exercise of the right to take any matter to the courts for determination. Any interference with their rights and duties respectively is an affront to the dignity of the courts and the administration of justice.

These principles, which protect all citizens, must be understood and respected by the authorities. We urge the police to immediately stop the unwarranted harassment and intimidation of lawyers, and to allow them to carry out their professional duties without hindrance.

Ragunath Kesavan
President
Malaysian Bar

29 April 2010

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