Suhakam says Siti Kassim’s recent arrest a “grave concern”

Tan Sri Razali Ismail (sourced from www.suhakam.org.my)
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KUCHING, June 26: Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is gravely concerned about Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor’s (Jais) ability to influence the police.

On the arrest of human rights lawyer Siti Kasim and her client recently, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said she was arrested for allegedly kidnapping her client and obstructing police from carrying out their duties.

“Suhakam is equally concerned that the rights of Siti Kasim’s client, who is an adult, were not fully taken into account, and that Jais had been able to influence the police without the police sufficiently determining the facts beforehand.

“This can lead to a situation where people will be apprehensive that there is religious policing in the country,” Razali said in a statement today.

Suhakam said it was also unacceptable and unjustifiable for the police to break down the door of Siti’s home for the purpose of a late-night arrest.

“The arrest was made without the police adequately and reasonably investigating the factual circumstances of the case. This could lead to overzealousness of the police officers making the arrest, resulting in a violation of the rights of the detainee, as evident in this case.

“The police must stop doing what appears to be an abuse of power and targeted police harassment as there was no justification or necessity to arrest and detain her for performing her duty as a lawyer in defence of her client,” opined Razali.

Despite the government’s pledges on institutional reforms, including police standard operating procedures, and to improve, rebuild and restructure, Razali said the actions of the police had made this incident more alarming and a serious obstacle to the national agenda to improve the performance of the police.

“Suhakam regrets that the arrest and detention has contravened the United Nations’ Basic Principles of the Role of Lawyers and Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. It appears that the police officers did not discharge their functions in full appreciation of and respect for human rights.”

Razali also noted that the problems of police abuse had not been comprehensively addressed by the government over the years.

Suhakam also cautions the public against lodging false police reports, which is an offence under Section 182 of the Penal Code for false information, with intent to cause a public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person. — DayakDaily