Hornbill Unleashed

June 30, 2017

Don’t intimidate, harass lawyers at work, Bar says after Siti Kasim charged

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:01 AM

The Malaysian Bar said lawyers must be allowed to carry out their duties without harassment or intimidation after activist lawyer Siti Kasim (pic) was charged last week for allegedly obstructing a public servant. — Picture by Choo Choy MayLawyers must be allowed to carry out their duties without harassment or intimidation, the Malaysian Bar said today after activist lawyer Siti Kasim was charged last week for allegedly obstructing a public servant.

In a statement, Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said Siti had made it clear that she was a lawyer, and was therefore discharging her professional duty at the time of alleged offence.

“Siti Kasim was present at the function in her capacity as an advocate and solicitor for the organisers and participants of the event. She had identified herself as a lawyer, and enquired about the basis for the raid.

“As such, she was discharging her professional duties as a lawyer at the time that the alleged offence was said to have been committed,” George said.

“Any unwarranted interference with the discharge of such duties is a serious violation of the independence of the legal profession, and an affront to the administration of justice. A robust and independent legal profession is indispensable to the rule of law,” he added.

Siti Kasim was charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code on June 22 for obstructing an officer from Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) during a raid at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur in April 2016.

Siti Kasim was arrested that night by Jawi officers and also police officers, despite identifying herself as a lawyer.

The raid happened during an alleged beauty pageant for transgenders held at a hotel here last year. Siti Kasim was subsequently released later that night after being briefly detained.

He also said that charge against Siti was against Principle 16 of the United Nations Basic Principle on the Role of Lawyers, which urges government to protect lawyers against intimidation and harassment.

“We urge the authorities to respect and uphold the rule of law, which includes the right of access to legal counsel who are free to perform their vital role without undue harassment or intimidation,” George said.

Siti has since taken steps to file a civil suit against the police officers and Jawi officers who had arrested her that night for wrongful detention.

Two weeks ago, the court granted her bid to have Jawi and the police to disclose the names of the officers involved in the raid, which would enable Siti Kasim’s civil suit.

Source : The Malay Mail Online



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