Malaysia: Stop harassing lawyers, Paulsen tells authorities

July 3, 2017


Human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen is demanding that the authorities stop “harassing” lawyers in the course of their duties. This comes after prominent lawyer Siti Kasim was charged with the alleged obstruction of a public servant in carrying out her functions. Paulsen, who is the Lawyers for Liberty’s executive director, said instead of investigating and charging lawyers for performing their roles, the authorities should ensure that international standards such as the United Nations (UN) Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers are compiled with. Article 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, among others, states that governments must ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference and that they should not be threatened with prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with their duties. “The criminal charge against Siti is a serious attack on the independence of the Bar Council and has enormous ramifications on the rights of lawyers to uphold the cause of justice without fear or favour,” Paulsen told FMT. “Siti was merely performing her role as a lawyer and the public will be adversely affected if lawyers – under harassment and intimidation – begin to fear criminal charges or threats to their safety and security for speaking out.”

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