This was originally published 22 November 2009... worth a revisit!
Anwar Ibrahim listens attentively as his former speechwriter, Dr Munawar Anees gives a chilling account of the humiliation and torture he suffered at the hands of Mahathir's secret police in 1998.
AI condemns intimidation of lawyers in Malaysia
Free Malaysia Today | Sunday, November 22, 2009
PETALING JAYA: Amnesty International is concerned over attempts to intimidate lawyers carrying out their professional duties in Malaysia.
Margaret John, the AI coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia, said the latest attack on the home of prominent lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon (left) illustrated once more the risks faced by Malaysian lawyers protecting the legal rights of government critics.
Last Tuesday evening, several Molotov cocktails were thrown into the house of Manjeet but unfortunately no one was injured.
Manjeet believed the attack was linked to private investigator P. Balasubramaniam’s recent exposure in the Altantuya affair cover-up where VVIPs were implicated.
Bala’s interview was done last month in the presence of three lawyers, one of whom was Manjeet.
“The incident illustrates once more that lawyers in Malaysia, acting in their professional capacity to protect the legal rights of government critics, are exposed to risks of harassment, threats and worst,” Margaret John said in a statement.
Following is the full statement by Margaret John:
I have learned that several Molotov cocktails were recently thrown into the home of prominent Malaysian lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon, a former Bar Council President. He said he regarded the attack on his home as a possible warning and threat to him and his family.
He and his family were fortunately out of the country at the time. The incident illustrates once more that lawyers in Malaysia, acting in their professional capacity to protect the legal rights of government critics, are exposed to risks of harassment, threats or worse.
Many of you will be aware that Manjeet Singh Dhillon is counsel for (now former) prisoner of conscience Dr Munawar Anees (right) and will know that Dr Anees made a Statutory Declaration during his incarceration a decade ago, in which he detailed the appalling treatment to which he had been subjected in prison. Manjeet has remained his counsel during the numerous court challenges to clear Dr Anees's name.
The Molotov cocktail attack is believed to be related to Manjeet Singh Dhillon's recent interview with private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, who had alleged a year ago that Prime MInister Najib Abdul Razak had been sexually involved with murder victim Altantuya Shaariibuu of Mongolia and that police were ordered to remove evidence of any links. Balasubramiam later retracted the allegations and fled. Manjeet Singh Dhillon asserted that he conducted the interview (now on Youtube) as a professional duty in the absence of Balasubramaniam's actual counsel, Americk Sidhu.
Amnesty International has previously expressed concern about attempts to intimidate lawyers carrying out their professional duties. In the most controversial case in Malaysia's recent history, defence lawyers were harassed and their offices searched during the trial for sodomy a decade ago of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
At that time, prominent defence lawyer Karpal Singh (above) was arrested under the Sedition Act in connection with remarks he made in court. Referring to high levels of arsenic in Anwar's blood, Karpal Singh expressed in court his concern that "someone out there wants to get rid of him... even to the extent of murder. I suspect that people in high places are responsible for the situation." Karpal Singh is himself a former prisoner of conscience.
|Fadiah Nadwa Fikri, one of five lawyers arrested by the police for attempting to provide legal aid to candlelight protestors detained at the Brickfields police station on 8 May 2009|
One of the more recent cases involves five lawyers who were arrested for illegal assembly when they gathered outside a police station where a group of candlelight demonstrators was held. The five lawyers wished to provide legal assistance to detainees.
A number of international standards guarantees protection for lawyers carrying out their professional duties. These include: UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and the Latimer House guidelines. Such standards, however, do not always provide protection in Malaysia in cases in which there is a link to criticism of the government.
Coordinator for Singapore and Malaysia
Amnesty International Canada
[First posted 22 November 2009]