THE Bar Council today denounced the prosecution of lawyer Siti Zabedah Kasim for obstructing a civil servant from doing his duty, saying that Siti Kasim was doing her duty as a lawyer in asking the civil servant the basis for a raid.
Bar president George Varughese said today in a press release that Siti Kasim was present at the event in question in the role of advocate and solicitor for the organisers and participants.
“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 the alleged offence was said to be committed," he said.
On June 23, Siti Kasim was charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code with obstructing an officer of the Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) conducting a raid on a fundraising dinner for transwomen on April 3 last year.
She is accused of obstructing Siti Nor Jihan Saleh from doing her duty at the event held at Renaissance Kuala Lumpur.
Siti Kasim pleaded not guilty to the offence, which is punishable by a two-year prison sentence, a RM10,000 fine, or both.
Varughese said it was fundamental for an advocate and solicitor to act for a client without fear of prosecution.
“A lawyer must at all times be allowed to advance a client’s rights without obstruction or impediment, or fear of prosecution for carrying out his or her duties as an officer of the court.
“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."
He urged the authorities to respect the rule of law which grants a person right of access to legal counsel without harassment or intimidation.
“The charge against Siti Kasim is in clear contravention of Principle 16 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which provides that 'Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognised professional duties, standards and ethics'," he said. – June 29, 2017.
~ The Malaysian Insight