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Bar wants IGP to stop cops from harassing lawyers

PETALING JAYA, 13 Nov 2008: The Bar Council wants the Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan to immediately stop his officers from harassing or intimidating lawyers.

In reiterating the call, Malaysian Bar vice-president K Ragunath called for Musa to stop unwarranted action that involved police officers asking lawyers representing clients to provide statements, purportedly to assist in investigations.

“We note that this trend is prevalent, more so in cases of purported breaches of public order that involve citizens exercising their legitimate right to dissent.

“This immediately conjures up the perception that the police force is selective in carrying out investigations, targeting legitimate dissenters exercising their rights for assembly or expression, which are protected under our Federal Constitution,” he said in a statement.

The Bar Council was responding to Musa’s comments on the case of lawyer N Surendran, who was representing Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) member Lourdes Mary in a remand proceeding and was later called by the police to give statements.

Musa had said the police were not intimidating lawyers but merely performing their duty professionally according to the law.

In refuting Musa’s comments, Ragunath said: “Surendran was in fact notified by police officers that a report had been lodged against him for alleged statements he had made during the proceedings in court.

“Subsequently, a Section 111 notice (under the Criminal Procedure Code, it compels one to give statements to police in investigations) was served on him for those alleged statements.

“The Bar Council reiterates that Surendran was also previously called by the police under similar circumstances, followed by (lawyers) Americk Sidhu and M Puravalen,” he added.

Ragunath also called for the police to respect the Rule of Law and the right of access to legal representation.

“We urge the police to allow lawyers to carry out their duties without any fear or favour,” he said.

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