Friday, November 7, 2008

When lawyers are muted, Justice fades.

[Malaysian Bar:1858] Press Release : Cease Harassment of Advocates Performing their Duties

Malaysian Bar Council
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Press Release

Cease Harassment of Advocates Performing their Duties

The independence of the Bar is critical to the Rule of Law. This means that lawyers must be free to act for their clients without fear or favour. Unfortunately, over the course of the last several months, this independence has been threatened each time the police have called in lawyers for questioning on matters relating to the execution of their professional duties.

We are perturbed that the police served a Section 111 notice on lawyer N. Surendran in relation to statements he allegedly made to the magistrate in court in the course of proceedings. N. Surendran was questioned today by the police pursuant to a police report made against him for the alleged statements. We are seriously concerned, as no offence appears to have been committed and the police were unable to enlighten him as to what offence they are investigating.

We therefore view the police questioning as an act of pure harassment and intimidation that encroaches upon the ability of an advocate and solicitor, who is an officer of the court, to perform his duties effectively and to the best of his ability.

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. It is also internationally recognised that they must be permitted to carry out these functions freely.

This principle, which protects all citizens, must be understood and respected by the authorities.

Dato' Ambiga Sreenevasan

President

Malaysian Bar

6 November 2008

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