Sunday, March 22, 2015

Respect rule of law, right to assemble, Bar tells cops

Published: 22 March 2015 12:17 PM
The March 7 #KitaLawan rally led to the arrests of several opposition lawmakers and activists despite a Court of Appeal ruling last year that such action infringed on Malaysians’ constitutional liberty. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, March 22, 2015.

The March 7 #KitaLawan rally led to the arrests of several opposition lawmakers and activists despite a Court of Appeal ruling last year that such action infringed on Malaysians’ constitutional liberty. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, March 22, 2015.
The Malaysian Bar Council has urged police to respect the constitutional right to assemble peacefully and uphold the rule of law, following the spate of arrests and detention of politicians and activists related to the March 7 #KitaLawan rally.
In expressing his deep concern, newly elected president Steven Thiru said the constitutional right to assemble peacefully and without arms was guaranteed under Article 10(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution.
He said the Court of Appeal had reaffirmed this constitutional liberty as a fundamental right of all Malaysians, as cited in the landmark ruling of PKR Youth chief Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad v Public Prosecutor last year.
"It is, therefore, untenable that the police have decided to ignore the Court of Appeal’s decision in the Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad case and have arrested, and in several instances also detained on remand, the persons.
"The decision of the Court of Appeal has a far-reaching impact on all forms of restrictions or limitations under our laws on the constitutionally safeguarded right to freedom of assembly. A decision of the Court of Appeal, until reversed by the Federal Court, remains enforceable and binding.
"It is not open to anyone, including the police, to ignore the decision even if an appeal or a review of the decision is pending.  As a law enforcement agency, the police must respect the law at all times, and not only when they wish or choose to do so.  The police cannot be a law unto themselves," he said in a statement today.
Police had arrested 11 individuals so far over the #KitaLawan street demonstration, which the authorities had allowed to proceed before rounding up opposition party leaders and social activists who had taken part in it the next day.
Apart from PKR vice-presidents Nurul Izzah Anwar and Tian Chua, those detained so far over the rally are PAS Youth treasurer Mohd Fakhrul Razi, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli, PKR's Jingga 13 head coordinator Mohd Fariz Musa, Nik Nazmi, Kelana Jaya PKR Youth leader Saifullah Zulkifli, DAP Youth chief Teo Kok Seong and Subang PKR member S. Jayathas.
Activists Adam Adli Abdul Halim and Mandeep Singh have also been hauled up by police.
Steven also hit out at the police for having no basis to remand or arrest the individuals and detaining them for longer than necessary when their statements could have been taken before letting them go, especially since some of which had voluntarily agreed to present themselves for questioning and assist in investigations.
He said a remand order, which could lead to a detention of up to 14 days, was to enable the police to complete investigations, and not for the purpose of commencing investigations.
The lawyer said it was imperative that the police show that they have pursued investigations diligently and they could not detain persons on remand in order to conduct investigations at their leisure.
"A remand order is a grave and harsh deprivation of an accused person’s liberty.  It is not an order that the police should lightly or routinely seek unless it is fully justifiable. The police should certainly not seek a remand order to harass and intimidate accused persons. Such conduct would be unprofessional, deplorable and unlawful."
The #KitaLawan rally seek to free jailed opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as well as calling for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's resignation.
Anwar was sentenced to five years' jail after the Federal Court in February found him guilty of sodomy. – March 22, 2015. 

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/respect-rule-of-law-right-to-assemble-bar-tells-cops#sthash.fd5RxzHf.dpuf

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