Lawyers and concerned citizens gathered at Bukit Aman for a peaceful show of protest against the manhandling and brief arrest of lawyer, Amer Hamzah Arshad and the re-arrest of his client, Khaireyll Benjamin Ibrahim @ Benjy under preventive detention laws which allows for detention without trial.
Among those present were Bar Council President Ragunath Kesavan, Vice President Lim Chee Wee and former president Ambiga Sreenevasan.
The peaceful protesters gathered for nearly an hour under the noon sun at Bukit Aman to submit a memorandum of protest to the IGP, protesting the blatant abuse of authority by the police in obstructing lawyers in discharging their duty and their arbitrary use preventive detention laws.
Those gathered also highlighted that the right of every citizen to have unimpeded access to lawyers at all times needs to be respected, as it should, and called for an end to this tyranny of abuse of powers.
Amer Hamzah Arshad told the media of how approximately 10 men dressed in plainclothes claiming to be policemen demanded his client go with them but only one managed to flash what seemed to be a police identification card. It was then that he was manhandled and effectively separating his client from counsel.
Amer Hamzah proceeded to add that there has also been blatant abuse of preventive laws by the police which clearly undermines the whole criminal justice system, he said:
Here you have a classic case where a person who had been charged in the criminal court, is being penalised further under a “detention without trial” law. Everyone should be given the opportunity to defend himself or herself in a court of law and not be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention by the Executive. We are supposed to live in a country where “rule of law” is the order of the day; unfortunately, it is apparent that we are in fact living in a country where “rule by law” reigns supreme.
The memorandum was submitted outside the Bukit Aman Lake Garden entrance at around 12.30pm, although not to the IGP himself who was a no show but to ASP Anuwal Abdul Wahab.
Some heated exchanges were visible when police tried to stop several protestors from holding up a banner proclaiming “Pertahankan Hak Guaman Rakyat! – Article 5 Perlembagaan.” Several members of the Bar Council Constitutional Rights Committee’s initiative, PerlembagaanKu – MyConstitution took the opportunity to distribute Rakyat Guides.
Bar Council President, Ragunath Kesavan stressed to the media that there are two aspects of concern; the blatant violation of human rights in the re-arrest under “detention without trial” type laws and the obstruction of lawyers while performing their duties.
When contacted, Bar Council Vice President, Lim Chee Wee told LoyarBurok:
Whilst our Prime Minister is advocating the ideals of an inclusive, democratic and developed world society (something any right minded and honest Malaysian citizen would want), the rest of the government, in particular certain members of the police force appear not to know of the aspirations of therest of the country.
Instead the arrogance of these individuals of authority is reflected in the abusive manner in which they treat others who are vulnerable. Their contemptuous behavior towards the constitutional right to counsel and the order of court for bail during the Benjy incident renders the words of the Prime Minister hollow.
These police officers ought to be punished and shamed. It would appear that the recent financial incentives given to the members of the police force has only emboldened the arrogance of these bad apples. We urge the PM to punish those who do not respect the rule of law.