KUALA LUMPUR – June 30, 2017: A lawyers’ activist group wants the Bar Council to stop defending its members who failed to adhere to the prescribed lawyers’ etiquette.
Continuing to do so, argued the secretary-general of the Concerned Lawyers for Justice (CLJ), Fatihah Jamhari, will damage the Bar’s image.
Fatihah, in a statement today, said it was unnecessary for Bar chairman George Varughese to defend controversial lawyer Siti Zabedah Kasim, also known as Siti Kasim who was charged last week for obstructing a government official.
Fatihah argued that the Bar should not defend Siti Kasim because she had failed to follow the code of conducts stipulated in the Legal Profession (Practice and Etiqutte) Rules 1978 and the United Nation Basic Principle on the Role of Lawyer.
The guidelines, according to Fatihah, stated that a lawyer is duty bound, even while representing clients and carrying out duties in defence of a suspected offender, to uphold the law and dignity of the profession at all times.
And this also includes conducting and discharging legal duties with candour, courtesy, fairness and to refrain from insulting or displaying annoying attitudes.
“The fracas that occurred between Siti Kasim and the Jawi (Federal Territories Islamic Affairs Department) officers during the raid was partially recorded in video, and could be accessed on public domains, including Youtube and Facebook.
“Upon having watched the short 3:04 minute video, we were shocked and concerned at the brutal intimidation and ruthless harassment thrown at the Jawi officers, who were merely carrying out their duties in accordance with the law.
“While the video may not be conclusive, at the very least we believe it provides a compelling evidence showing that the charge proffered against Siti Kasim was indeed fair, and must be allowed to be litigated in full in the Court of law,” Fatihah stated.
Siti Kassim, was charged under section 186 of the Penal Code for impeding a Jawi officer from carrying out the latter’s duties during a raid on an event at a hotel here on April 3.
Siti Kasim pleaded not guilty to the offence. Her alleged offence is punishable by a two-year prison sentence, a RM10,000 fine, or both.
Fatihah also argued that the raid by Jawi at the closed-door event was lawful as it was done in line with the Syariah Criminal Offence (Federal Territories) Act 1997 and the Syariah Criminal Procedure (Federal Territories) Act 1997 (SCP).
She pointed out that Section 2 of the SCP allows Jawi officers to conduct raids and make arrests without any warrant provided that the alleged offence falls under the category of seizable offence.
“The fact that the function was a closed-door event does not preclude the Religious Enforcement Officer from the authority to enter into the premises in which the offence is suspected to have been committed.
“In fact, section 11 of the SCP clearly spells the duty of the person in charge of the premises to allow free ingress to the Religious Enforcement Officer, and to afford reasonable facilities so as to allow the raid to take effect.
“Any attempt to obstruct the enforcement officers from carrying out their duties as expressly provided by the law, must therefore not be condoned, even when such obstruction is carried out by a lawyer or a member of the Bar Council,” stated Fatihah.