July 24, 2017
A lawyers group has called authorities to act immediately against those responsible for violent threats on social media against lawyer-cum-activist Siti Zabedah Kasim (pix), who is known for her controversial views on Islam and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) issues.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) legal coordinator Melissa Sasidaran said Siti’s case could be investigated under Section 506 and 509 of the Penal Code, as well as Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
Sasidaran alleged that the authorities had been selective as they only act on social media comments deemed offensive to the government.
She said no action was taken in cases involving G25 member Noor Farida Ariffin, former Bersih chairman Datuk S. Ambiga and Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah.
“It is unacceptable and shocking that the authorities are not acting against such threats and bullying behaviour against women with the seriousness they deserve,” she said in a statement today.
Siti lodged a police report on Sunday against an individual who had allegedly called for other Muslims to behead her.
Siti said the first threat was posted online on July 3, attached to an article that she claimed had misquoted her on her stand on LGBT.
The same person wrote another post on July 19, attaching another article from the same portal.
Siti said among the threats made against her online were calls to behead, rape and splash acid on her face.
July 13, 2017
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) urges the Attorney General’s Chamber to drop the charge of “obstructing a public servant” against human rights lawyer Siti Kasim. We also call on the Malaysian government to end discriminatory laws, policies, and practices against the transgender community, and further comply with international human rights standards.
Drop the charge against Siti Kasim
Siti Kasim is a prominent woman human rights lawyer known for her advocacy for indigenous, women’s, and LGBT rights. On 13th June 2017, she was charged for allegedly “obstructing a public servant” under Section 186 of the Penal Code.
This occurred after she questioned the legitimacy of a raid conducted by Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department (Jawi) officers on a private transgender event. Siti Kasim had identified herself as a lawyer and was conducting her professional duties as an advocate and solicitor at the event.
On 23rd June 2017, Siti Kasim pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released on bail. The next court hearing is scheduled for 22nd August 2017. If convicted, she faces up to two years in prison, a maximum fine of RM 10,000 or both.
The charge against Siti Kasim is an affront to the independence of the legal profession. The charge would set a chilling precedent that undermines lawyers’ ability to defend their clients’ rights without fear of arrest and prosecution. The independence of lawyers to freely conduct their professional duties is fundamental to protecting human rights, upholding the rule of law, and administering justice.
We urge the Attorney General’s Chamber to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Siti Kasim.
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.”
June 23, 2017
Lawyer and activist Siti Kasim (pic) has claimed trial at a magistrate’s court here to allegedly obstructing a religious department officer from carrying out her duties at an event last year.
Siti Kasim, or her full name Siti Zabedah Kasim, was accused of obstructing Siti Nor Jihan Saleh @ Md Ghazali, 36, who is an enforcement officer with the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (Jawi), from executing her duties.
The offence was allegedly committed at a ballroom at Renaissance Hotel here, at about 10.30pm on April 3, 2016.
The 54-year-old Siti was charged under Section 186 of the Penal Code and faces up to two years’ in jail or a fine of up to RM10,000, or both.
She pleaded not guilty to the charge.
DPP Siti Hajar Mohd Ashif did not offer bail.
Lawyer Roger Chan, who is representing Siti, asked for the court to impose a bond without security instead.
“She is a human rights activist, a member of the Bar Council and a person with status in society. She does not pose a flight risk,” he said.
Magistrate Ahmad Solihin Abd Wahid fixed bail at RM3,000 with one surety. The case is set for mention on Aug 22.
November 14, 2016
We, the undersigned international human rights and legal organizations, are writing to express our serious concerns about the proposed amendments to the Legal Profession Act 1976, which your government has indicated will be introduced in the Parliament. We urge you to reconsider pursuing these amendments, as they pose a serious threat to the independence of the Malaysian Bar, and the right to freedom of association, and threaten the environment in which lawyers are able to freely speak out on matters of concern and public interest.
As the United Nations Human Rights Council affirmed in 2015, an independent legal profession is among the “prerequisites for the protection of human rights and the application of the rule of law, and for ensuring fair trials and the administration of justice without any discrimination.” The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers state that governments shall ensure that lawyers can perform all of their professional functions “without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.”
The Malaysian Bar, created by statute in 1947, is an independent bar association whose aim is “to uphold the rule of law and the cause of justice and protect the interest of the legal profession as well as that of the public.” It is managed by a 38-member Bar Council, elected annually from among its members. Consistent with its stated purpose, the Malaysian Bar has been an outspoken voice and a key guardian in Malaysia on the Constitution, judicial independence, human rights issues, and the rule of law for several decades.
October 26, 2016
Professionals such as lawyers should not be punished or discriminated for merely serving clients which Putrajaya views as anti-government, the Malaysian Bar said today.
Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s recent threats to blacklist lawyers and law firms allegedly supporting Bersih 2.0 amounted to “overt discrimination against professionals for their purported contrary political views or affiliations”.
“Professionals, businesses and traders must not be penalised for providing goods or services to those whom the Government arbitrarily labels anti-Government or deems unpatriotic,” he said in a statement today.
Highlighting the independence of the legal profession as a critical pillar of the rule of law, Steven said threats of economic sanctions or other forms of reprisal should not be made against lawyers.
“The Minister’s reported comments are nothing short of political blackmail and intimidation that can never be accepted, let alone tolerated.