Bar EGM: Condemn the Arrest of the 5 Legal Aid Lawyers

I will be there at the Bar EGM this Friday to vote for the motion to condemn and denounce the arrest of the lawyers on 7 May 2009. Have a watch of the video to see how a peaceful candlelight vigil led to the arrest of several individuals. The Legal Aid lawyers were then present at the police station in order to represent these arrested individuals. Not only were they denied access to these individuals, they were then arrested on what appears to be the charge of ‘illegal assembly.’

The wording of the Motion sets out the whole sequence of events.

The Motion

 
Whereas on the night of 7 May 2009, five members of the Kuala Lumpur Legal Aid Centre, Fadiah Nadwa binti Fikri (Secretary), Murnie Hidayah binti Anuar, Puspawati binti Rosman, Ravinder Singh Dhalliwal (Chairperson) and Syuhaini binti Safwan (collectively known as the “LAC Lawyers”), in their capacity as Advocates & Solicitors, had requested the police at the Brickfields Police Station for access to the detained persons who were arrested that same night whilst holding a candlelight vigil at the same Police Station over the recent arrest of political scientist Wong Chin Huat.

Whereas Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution entrenches the fundamental right of a person to consult and be defended by the legal practitioner of his/her choice. Further, sub-sections 28A(2) to (7) of the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”) set out in detail the rights of arrested persons including their right to communicate and consult with a legal practitioner of their choice.

Whereas the Police denied the LAC Lawyers access to the detained persons, the Police, without any reasonable grounds, proceeded to arrest the LAC Lawyers and only released them on police bail the following day at around 3 p.m., notwithstanding the repeated requests by other lawyers for their immediate release.

NOW IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED THAT THE MALAYSIAN BAR:

1. Strongly condemns and denounces the wrongful arrest, detention and interrogation of the LAC Lawyers.

2. Strongly condemns and denounces the blatant transgression of the rule of law and the constitutional right of every person to counsel and access to justice.

3. Strongly condemns the unnecessary arrest and detention of those exercising their constitutional right to assemble peaceably.

4. Strongly condemns the arbitrary, improper and frequent resort by the police to section 28A(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code, thus denying an arrested person access to counsel and making the right provided under section 28A(3) meaningless.

5. Strongly condemns and denounces the appalling treatment of the LAC lawyers and all those held in custody, including compelling them to wear lock up uniforms and unnecessarily handcuffing them.

6. Strongly condemns and denounces the Police for deliberately refusing to disclose to their family or their lawyers any information in relation to the LAC lawyers after their arrest, including their location and their next course of action.

7. Calls upon the Inspector-General of Police to take immediate disciplinary action against the police officers responsible for the unlawful arrest of the LAC Lawyers and in particular, the OCPD of the Brickfields police station for this shameful incident.

8. Calls upon the Inspector-General of Police to take full responsibility for, and to explain, this gross abuse of police power.

9. Calls upon the Government to be committed to and to uphold the Rule of Law as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

10. Reiterates its previous calls on the Government to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) in its original form to serve as an independent external oversight mechanism.

11. Calls on the Government of Malaysia to uphold and defend the fundamental rights of advocates and solicitors to discharge their responsibilities to their clients in an environment free from threats and intimidation and unhindered by law enforcement agencies.

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