Contributed by Chin Oy Sim, Executive Officer, Bar Council
The President of the Malaysian Bar, Ragunath Kesavan, led a 14–member delegation to Parliament this morning to deliver a memorandum to the Prime Minister regarding the arrest of five lawyers, all of whom are members of the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre (KL), on 7 May 2009. The delegation comprised the four Bar Council Office Bearers, the five lawyers, four Bar Council members and the Bar Council CEO.
The memorandum provides an overview of the events that transpired when the five lawyers, who had been waiting at the Brickfields police station to provide legal representation to their clients who had been arrested during a candlelight vigil earlier that night, were themselves arrested.
One of the conclusions arrived at in the memorandum is that the five lawyers were wrongly and unnecessarily arrested, detained and interrogated by the Police without reasonable grounds and in the course of carrying out their professional obligations as advocates and solicitors. The Police's actions were clearly a form of harassment to obstruct the lawyers from discharging their responsibility to provide legal representation to their detained clients, and are a blatant transgression of the rule of law and the constitutional right of every person to counsel and access to justice.
In the memorandum, the Bar Council calls on the Government to take immediate action to rectify this matter and to ensure it does not recur, including:
a) Undertake an independent, comprehensive and transparent investigation into this matter without further delay.
b) Seek the resignation of the Minister for Home Affairs, the Inspector–General of Police, OCPD ACP Wan Abdul Bari bin Wan Abdul Khalid, and DSP Jude Pereira of the Brickfields Police Station.
c) Take immediate disciplinary action against all officers who were responsible for the Incident, and pending the said action, suspend the officers from all duties.
d) Issue a public statement immediately to condemn the gross abuse of police powers, make an unconditional apology to the five lawyers, commit to upholding the fundamental rights of lawyers to discharge their responsibilities to their clients in an environment free from intimidation and unhindered by law enforcement agencies, and commit to establishing the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in its original form to serve as an independent external oversight mechanism.
The memorandum was received by Y.B. Dato' Seri Mohamed Nazri bin Tan Sri Dato' Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.
Click here to view the Malaysiakini video of the arrest of the five KL LAC lawyers.